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Mental health through the holidays: Battling feelings associated with loneliness or family troubles

The holidays are just around the corner and for many people, this is considered the most wonderful time of the year, filled with happy memories of time spent with family and loved ones! However, not everyone is feeling the holiday spirit. For some people, the holidays are a source of loneliness and stress.

Families Together recognizes how difficult it is to be away from your family during the holiday season or how difficult it is to be around your family when your relationship with them isn’t the best. We have put together a guide on how to cope with feelings of loneliness or family troubles during the holidays.

What to do if you miss your family

1. Reach out to others who might be lonely

If you know another person who is spending the holidays alone, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Odds are they’re feeling the same as you and would love to have company. You could make dinner and watch a movie together. It might even be helpful to have someone to confide in about your feelings of loneliness. You may miss your family, but spending the holidays with a friend could definitely help ease the pain.

2. Volunteering

Volunteering is a great way to keep yourself occupied and your mind off of your feelings of loneliness. Helping others will also lift your spirits and put you in a much better mood. There are many ways to volunteer during the holidays including participating in toy drives, helping out at a food distribution center, or even making homemade holiday cards to donate to nursing homes and children’s hospitals. Helping make someone else’s holiday season a little more jolly may help bring the holiday spirit into your heart as well, even while being far from your loved ones.

3. Connect with technology

Just because you can’t physically be with your family, doesn’t mean you can’t share the holiday cheer over video chat! Be sure to check in with your family and send each other pictures to feel connected. It’s hard to not be with them in person, but video chatting with them as you open presents or have dinner can bring a source of comfort and community. 

What to do if your family is causing you stress:

1. Replace negative thoughts and comments with positive ones

If toxic family members are making hurtful comments or criticisms, be prepared to combat their negativity with positive thoughts. It can be easy to let those thoughts spiral, but it’s important to be self-aware and make an effort to not let them take over. Whenever you start to feel the negative thoughts creeping in, take a moment to remind yourself of the positive: that you are worthy, you’re doing your best every day, and you’ve accomplished so much. Nothing that anyone else says can take that away from you. Sometimes you have to be your own cheerleader, even if it’s hard.

2. Set Boundaries and stay grounded

Staying grounded in your emotions is important for situations with difficult family members that might rile you up. One way to get control of your emotions is to meditate before attending the event to limit your stress levels before showing up to the event. It’s easier to maintain composure than it is to regain it. Going into the event with a game plan will do wonders for your experience as well. Think about who you wouldn’t mind being around and who you absolutely want to steer clear from. Try to stay away from topics that could cause controversy, such as politics or religion, and be prepared to take a few deep breaths if anyone else brings them up. Try to prepare some responses that will deescalate the situation, and politely excuse yourself if the conversation seems to steer in an uncomfortable direction.

3. Know when to walk away

If all else fails, don’t be afraid to walk away if the situation becomes too overwhelming, even if it’s just to step outside for a moment to get some air. Taking breaks is essential for your mental health and giving yourself a moment to cool off will help de-escalate any negative emotions you’re having. At the end of the day, your well-being always comes first and there is no shame in separating yourself from a stressful situation.

Families Together encourages you to prioritize your mental health no matter the season. We offer a wide range of behavioral health services for those in need of mental health management.  If you’re looking for a way to spend your time this holiday season, Families Together would like to invite you to our annual Christmas Together toy-giveaway event for Orange County residents! Please call us at 1(800) 597-7977 ext. 509 for more information on our behavioral health services.