Coping with loneliness during the holiday season, especially while in recovery, can be very challenging. Maintaining sobriety and mental well-being is important over Christmas in order to avoid relapse triggers and any mental health dips that commonly occur during the holiday period.
To cope with loneliness and recovery over Christmas, there are strategies and actions you can take to manage your mental health and recovery journey during Christmas. Putting yourself first and managing how you feel will give you the greatest chance of maintaining recovery and enjoying the Christmas period.
See some tips to maintain recovery over Christmas and how to manage your mental health below.
Is it Common to Experience Loneliness During Christmas?
It’s important to recognise that feeling lonely during Christmas is a common and normal experience for many people, especially if you are going through the recovery journey from drug or alcohol addiction for the first time.
Whilst Christmas for some people is the happiest time of the year, it is also a period that can highlight lost loved ones, exaggerate feelings of loneliness, and be isolating for those in addiction recovery.
If you or someone you know is experiencing loneliness during the holidays, reaching out for support, participating in social activities, and practising self-care can help alleviate these feelings and help you cope with loneliness and recovery over Christmas.
Is Recovery Harder at Christmas Time?
Due to the festivities that often take place during the festive period, remaining sober and maintaining recovery in the New Year and Christmas can be the most challenging time of the year, and can also feel isolating for some people.
Drinking alcohol at Christmas is very common, so staying sober and saying no to drinks can be a challenge and may even feel disheartening. Particularly for those in their first Christmas in recovery, sticking to sobriety can be extremely difficult, which is why you should have some relapse prevention techniques to help you manage relapse triggers during the holidays.
Be honest with loved ones about how you are feeling, make new traditions and events that don’t centre around alcohol, and reward yourself for maintaining your sobriety. By managing your recovery over Christmas, you will feel equipped to maintain long term recovery.
Ways to Manage Loneliness and Recovery at Christmas
Christmas can be hard to cope with, especially if it is your first year in recovery. See the below ways you can cope with loneliness and recovery at Christmas:
Reach Out for Support: Don’t hesitate to lean on your support network. Reach out to friends, family, or support groups that you trust and let them know you may be feeling lonely during the holidays. They can offer emotional support and companionship, which is especially important if you are in recovery.
Attend Sober Events: Look for local sober events, gatherings, or meetings taking place during the holiday season held by groups such as Alcoholics Anonymous. Addiction support groups can provide an opportunity to connect with others who understand the challenges of recovery while also celebrating the holidays in a safe and supportive environment.
Maintain Your Routine: Stick to your daily routine and relapse prevention recovery plan as closely as possible. Consistency in your habits, such as attending therapy sessions, exercising, and practising mindfulness, can provide stability and a sense of control.
Limit Isolation During the Festive Period: Avoid isolating yourself as this can make you feel lonely, especially over Christmas. As well as worsening the symptoms of loneliness, isolation also increases the risk of relapse. Make an effort to stay connected with others, even if it’s through phone calls, video chats, or online support groups.
Set Realistic Expectations: Understand that the holidays may not be picture-perfect. Embrace the reality that there may be moments of loneliness, discomfort and relapse triggers. Set realistic expectations and remind yourself that it’s okay to experience these emotions, as putting pressure on yourself can make the process harder.
Create New Traditions: Instead of dwelling on what you might be missing without alcohol, consider creating new, meaningful traditions that align with your recovery journey. This could include activities like journaling, art therapy, or a special event to celebrate the Christmas period.
Stay Mindful of Triggers: Be aware of potential triggers, such as family stress or memories associated with substance use. Develop strategies to cope with these triggers, such as mindfulness techniques, deep breathing, or reaching out to your sponsor or therapist.
Plan Self-Care Throughout the Holiday: Prioritise self-care during the holidays. Make time for activities that promote your well-being, such as exercise, meditation, reading, or spending time in nature. This can really help to combat loneliness and any cravings or triggers you may experience.
Focus on Gratitude: Shift your focus towards gratitude. Reflect on the positive aspects of your recovery journey and the progress you’ve made. Gratitude can help combat feelings of loneliness and isolation.
Consider Professional Help: If feelings of loneliness and distress become overwhelming, consider seeking the guidance of a therapist or counsellor who specialises in addiction recovery and mental health. Professional support can be instrumental in navigating these challenges.
Support Available to Help with Loneliness and Recovery Over Christmas
Another good way to manage your during Christmas is to seek support from organisations that are there to help. Some key organisations that can help you with loneliness or recovery are Samaritans, Alcoholics Anonymous/Narcotics Anonymous, Mind, Age UK and ourselves at Action Rehab.
Depending on your needs, age and resources that you need to help you cope with loneliness or recovery over Christmas, these organisations offer support and somebody to talk to which can help you if you are feeling alone at Christmas.
It is important to remember that your journey in recovery is a significant achievement, and while the holidays may be challenging, it can also be an opportunity for growth, self-discovery, and reinforcing your commitment to a healthier, substance-free life.
At Action Rehab we can help you receive addiction treatment to help with your recovery journey. Contact us on 0151 268 6992 to learn more.
By implementing these strategies and seeking support when you need it, you can cope with loneliness and continue your recovery during Christmas.