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Caregiving Advice For The Holidays

Caregiving Advice For The Holidays

Many of us approach the holiday season with mixed emotions.

Some of us are mourning the loss of a family member or friend. Lots of us are lamenting the upending of family traditions by the global coronavirus pandemic. For many, we still feel the burden of creating the “perfect” holiday celebration.

And, we know that it is especially difficult for those who are also managing the challenges of a loved one’s substance use, addiction, or other mental health issues. Approximately 58 million Americans are living with mental health and/or substance use disorders, and the COVID-19 crisis will likely contribute to growth in these numbers.

Here are some suggestions from The Partnership to End Addiction (DrugFree.org) that may help you and yours manage this holiday season:

  • Decide what you can comfortably handle. Communicate this to your family and friends. Is it reasonable to take on all the planning and preparation of even a small, socially-distanced gathering? Can others help or contribute to tasks?
  • Get rest. The holidays can wear you down emotionally and physically. Self-care may be your best gift to yourself.
  • Count your blessings. It can help to write down what you are grateful for.
  • Recognize your emotions. You do not need to pretend like everything is the same or okay. It is natural to feel many emotions — sometimes all at once.

In South Carolina, 1-844-SC-HOPES (724-6737), is statewide support line for individuals in need of mental health or substance use services.

SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), is a confidential information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations. Callers can also order free publications and other information.

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline, 1-800-273-TALK (8255), is a network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress.

Human connection, particularly during times of stress, is essential. People who never experienced mental illness or substance use disorders prior to COVID may find themselves in a confusing and scary place when these issues arise. Folks who live with these conditions every day may see their symptoms increase or worsen.

The need for support is greater at this time of year than almost any other season. If you are having trouble “going it alone,” we encourage you to find a way to connect with help.

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