If your incarceration or the incarnation of a loved one has led you astray from family and friends, you may find that the holiday season brings feelings of loneliness and isolation. It can be hard to go through the holidays on your own when it is a time that is typically spent with loved ones, and you may be missing yours more during this season.
Talk to Someone
Thanks to social media and technology, connecting with friends and family who do not live near you is easier than ever. Calling or video-chatting a friend can help ease feelings of loneliness even if they cannot physically be with you. Try reconnecting with old friends as well as checking in on family members with which you may have lost contact.
There are also support hotlines available to connect you with someone if you need to talk. Warmlines is a peer-run hotline service that connects you with others with shared experiences. This free service was established to provide human connection and hope. Do not underestimate the benefit of genuine connection to help you get through dark times.
If you are able to spend the holidays with family, you may still find it stressful and feel the effect on your mental health. If this is your first holiday since incarceration or some relationships haven’t fully mended, you may find that you are both happy and stressed at the same time. Remember, you are not defined by your past and you do not have to discuss any part of your criminal history and time incarcerated that you do not feel comfortable sharing. If anybody presses past your comfort level, respectfully exit the conversation, or let them know you would prefer to not share at this time. If you are struggling with rebuilding relationships with friends and family, read this blog post for tips and advice.
Food banks, faith groups, and other charitable organizations often host holiday food drives or dinners. You may find comfort in having a meal with others in your community, or you can often take a meal home to enjoy. Feeding America is a national organization that helps provide food to people when they need it most through mobile pantries, drive-through pantries, SNAP assistance, and more. Locate your nearest food bank on our resource map.
Give Support to Others
Volunteering during the holidays is an easy and free way to meet new people in the community, while gaining a sense of satisfaction knowing that you are doing something good for others. Getting into the spirit of giving during the holidays can greatly lessen your sense of loneliness and warm your heart with the knowledge that you are helping others who may be struggling. Feeling like you made a difference in somebody else’s day can change your perspective and provide a sense of purpose. You may even make friends with the other volunteers. You can lend a hand at the local soup kitchen, assist with a toy drive for children, volunteer in nursing homes, and more. Read our blog on volunteering to learn more about the benefits and where to find opportunities.
GEO Reentry Connect is a comprehensive resource for individuals who have been incarcerated. Find resources you need upon release from prison or jail–employment, housing, education, family services, treatment, and more.