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Top Tips for a Stress Free Festive Season!

Posted on the 23rd December 2014

Many people experience common mental health problems at some point in their lives, such as depression, stress and anxiety. These problems can develop easily and make it harder to cope with everyday demands. During the festive season, these demands can take their toll on people and affect their mental health and wellbeing. Lancashire Care NHS Foundation Trust’s Minds Matter team, previously known as the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) service, provide a range of services to help people when they find things get too much, ranging from stress control workshops to Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT). This year, the team have put together some hints and tips to reduce stress to help people have a fun-filled season.

Emma Nazurally, Service Manager for Minds Matter said:

“This time of year is a great time to catch up with family and friends and really get into the festive cheer. However, it’s important to remember that it can also bring with it stressful occasions, such as deciding who to visit and what to buy for people. This in turn can raise concerns relating to finances and this time of year can be increasingly difficult for people feeling lonely. If anyone is feeling low it is important they don’t suffer in silence and visit their GP to seek advice or they can call our team for support.”

The IAPT service’s Top Ten Tips for a stress-free festive season are:

1.    Planning ahead in the lead up to the festivities can help to organise your thoughts.
•    Know who is getting which gift.
•    Sharing your calendar or diary with your immediate family will make sure there aren’t any clashes.

2.    Christmas is now less about the gift of giving, and more the season of over indulgence.
•    Try not to stray away from a balanced diet too much.
•    Sugary foods can impact on changes to blood sugar levels and affect your mood and energy levels.
3.    Keeping up your activity levels supports a positive mindset.
•    Try something new, such as ice skating, or catch up with friends by going on a walk somewhere local. This will release feel-good endorphins.

4.    Watching your alcohol intake at social occasions can help keep you in a positive mindset.
•    Alcohol is a depressant.
•    Alcohol can lead to irritability, low mood, disturbed sleep and sometimes aggression and violent behaviour.

5.    Remember that Christmas is a social event, and can be very lonely for some people.
•    Make an extra special effort to spend time with acquaintances and loved ones alike.
•    Doing good deeds also makes you feel better, and can give you the little boost you may need to keep a positive mindset.

6.    Large parties and social occasions can often be stressful for the host and leave others feeling uncomfortable.
•    Christmas doesn’t have to be over in a day, so take your time to see loved ones, in a way you feel most appropriate.

7.    Whilst you may be running around trying to make Christmas perfect for everyone else, take some time for yourself. Does the thought of cooking Christmas dinner fill you with fear?
•    There’s no shame in taking a shortcut, so book a restaurant for dinner, or check out the freezer department in your local supermarket.
8.    Prioritising your worries can help you tackle them one at a time.
•    Rather than keeping things in your head, write all your worries down on a piece of paper. Seeing everything in black and white can help make coming to a solution much easier.
9.    Don’t skimp on your sleep. You might have a million and one things to do, but staying up late into the night will not help your productivity levels and you could find you have to do jobs twice over.
•    Plan and use your time effectively.
•    Get a good night’s rest. You’ll feel refreshed and ready to tackle any problems that may come your way.
10.    Relax and stay positive. Enjoy yourself and relish the festivities. Christmas comes but once a year!

To find out more about wellbeing support in Lancashire, please contact your local Minds Matter team:
•    Hyndburn: 01254 226 007
•    Ribble Valley: 01200 420 499
•    Burnley: 01282 657230
•    Pendle: 01282 657927
•    Rossendale: 01282 657792
•    Blackburn with Darwen: 01254 226037
•    Chorley and South Ribble: 01772 644519
•    Preston: 01772 773437
•    West Lancs: 01695 588254
•    Fylde and Wyre: 01253 955943
•    Lancaster and Morecambe: 01524 550552

For anyone feeling low or in distress, the Wellbeing and Mental Health Helpline provides a listening ear and confidential support for those who want someone to talk to. The helpline will be open every day from 7pm-11pm throughout Christmas and New Year and can be contacted on Freephone 0300 222 5931, and calls will not be charged whether they are made from a landline or mobile phone. Normal opening hours will then be resumed in the New Year, which are 7pm-11pm Monday to Friday and 12noon-12midnight on Saturdays and Sundays.