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Christmas - Do you Love it or Loathe it?

For many of us, ‘it’s the most wonderful time of the year’, but it’s also a time when those of us who suffer with poor mental health can feel especially vulnerable. For every jolly family gathering with all the trimmings there are families who are missing someone or there are people spending time alone.

Whatever you’ll be doing this season I hope you find the following 5 tips useful.

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1. Remember to Breathe

When you’re feeling anxious or stressed, slow your breathing down and start to focus on where you feel the sensation of your breath. This may be around your nostrils or mouth, or in your stomach or chest. Focusing on your breath for just 5 seconds will force your racing mind to slow down, then you can return to whatever it is you were doing or thinking about. Try and do this several times a day.

2. Don’t be afraid to ask for help

You’ll be surprised how many people think they should be struggling alone or doing everything themselves. Don’t be afraid to reach out to others, it may be you need help with preparing the food or wrapping the presents. You may be worried about being on your own and afraid of asking people for some of their time. Christmas is a time for goodwill to all and a great majority of us will do what we can to help at this time of year.

3. Go Outside

Research shows that exercise and being surrounded by nature is very good at lifting our mood. Aim to spend some time outdoors every day, so if the after dinner party games are getting too much for you, go for a walk! If you’re on your own pop outside and smile at everyone you meet, start a conversation with someone you pass by in the street.

4. Have a Mindful Moment

Find some peace and calm in the chaos and spend a few minutes doing something mindfully, try paying full attention when you’re washing the dishes or clearing the table. Feeling, seeing and listening to everything that’s going on in that moment for you, instead of being distracted by everything going on around you. If you’re on your own, listen to a favourite piece of music or watch your favourite programme on TV. Allow yourself to become fully immersed in the experience, really enjoying the moment rather than thinking about the past or worrying about the future.

5. Be kind to yourself

Yes I know it’s the season of goodwill to all, but remember to include yourself in that too, don’t be so critical of yourself. So what if you’ve forgotten the sprouts! Does it really matter if you’re not smiling ALL the time? We are all carrying the ghosts of Christmas past and future around with us, so it’s okay to feel sad some of the time, in fact it’s okay to have any emotion any of the time! You’re a human being, doing the best you can, accept this and be kind to yourself.

Finally, remember that Christmas will be here and gone before we know it, nothing in life is permanent, this too will pass.

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