Connect with family and friends during the holidays

  • Published
  • By Matthew Palmisano
  • 182nd Medical Group

Holiday celebrations are different all around, and even when people celebrate with family, friends and loved ones, they can still feel lonely. The past two years have been more difficult for some because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some individuals have been unable to visit family and friends during the holidays. Some people may have recently lost loved ones.

People can experience grief and loss for many other reasons during the holidays. Loneliness and isolation are two factors that may play a role during this year’s holiday celebration. This is why it is important to connect with those around you during this time to prevent loneliness, isolation and in some cases, suicidal thoughts or ideas.

Here are some tips on how to CONNECT:

Connect with others by scheduling time to talk, share a meal or do an activity you all enjoy. Volunteering is a great way to get active and socially engage.

Observe your emotions and physical sensations. For example, stress can be felt as tension in the shoulders or pressure on the chest. Being mindful of how you are feeling emotionally and physically can help increase self-awareness.

Note the nearest resources. Connect with a resource at your, as necessary or if you experience any suicide-related thoughts or behavior. Military OneSource and Military Crisis Line are available 24/7. You can always contact the ANG Suicide Prevention Program for resources available to you.

Nudge yourself outside. Connecting with nature can be beneficial to your mental health, whether it is spending time outdoors or bringing nature into your everyday life. Think about activities that include swimming, parks, trails, picnic areas, playgrounds, sports, recreational shooting, beaches, lakes and competitive events.

Empathize with others by listening to their stories and share your stories with others who can empathize with you. You will open a healthy space to be vulnerable and feel validated.

Coping skills can help you manage difficult emotions. Work to develop your problem-solving skills and learn mindfulness techniques that can help calm you.

Take care of yourself by setting healthy boundaries with individuals who do not benefit your mental health. Communicate your needs with the other individual, set limits, and practice self-care and self-respect.

Matthew Palmisano, MSW, LICSW, US ARMY CPT (Ret)
Director of Psychological Health, 182d Medical Group
Mobile: 309-210-8390
The Military Crisis Line can be reached at 1-800-273-8255 *1