Coping With the Holidays

The following tips were collected by NAMI Connection facilitators from all over the U.S.

What is NAMI

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) is the nation's voice on mental illness. NAMI is a national network of people who volunteer to work together to improve the lives of people who are affected by a wide-range of serious biological brain disorders.


  • Stay close to family and friends who understand your illness.
  • Take your medications as prescribed.
  • Be sure to get the sleep you need.
  • Celebrate the holidays in ways that are comfortable for you.
  • Holidays do not stop feelings of sadness and loneliness; give yourself permission to work through these feelings.
  • Don’t compare this holiday with previous ones.
  • Enjoy all the little things you have now.
  • Talk about the stress you feel with family and friends.
  • Keep expectations manageable.
  • Plan your work and work your plan.
  • If it is a gift-giving holiday, set a budget and stick with it. Many items that you can give do not cost money – a phone call to a friend may mean more.
  • Do something nice for someone else. Do something nice for yourself.
  • Stay out of department stores.
  • Play your favorite music.
  • Celebrate in a way that is comfortable for you.
  • Surround yourself with close friends who understand your feelings about the holiday.
  • Reflect on positive memories from the past year and try to build on them.
  • Don’t allow yourself to dwell on the negative. If negative thoughts come, acknowledge them and let them go. Return to a positive thought or memory. Don’t beat yourself up for having a negative thought.
Remember that the holidays do not magically banish all reasons for feeling sad and lonely; sometimes holidays can seem to magnify those feelings. It can be a little easier to get through the holidays when you look for things to appreciate and focus your thoughts on those positive things.
  •  Don’t dwell on past losses.
  •  Do work through unresolved grief.
  •  Do remember that they will be a difference between the ideal holiday and the reality of one’s life. Try not to
  • dwell on any disappointment you may experience.
  •  Don’t accept the role of victim – get out of the house if you can and enjoy the sunshine (when you have it)
  • and fresh air.
  •  Remember, celebrations are what you make them – and make them comfortable for you. Create new
  • (comfortable) memories.