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Thursday 13 December 2018
Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust
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Be kind to yourself this festive season

Making a positive difference ribbon
For many people, the festive season is an enjoyable time to connect with others and celebrate the year.  But loneliness can increase stress for people with anxiety and depression in the lead up to the festivities.
Here are a few strategies to help you to manage the holiday season. Also take a look at our festive tips for young people.

Be kind to yourself when you are planning what you will do

Take your mind off things by making sure you allow plenty of time for enjoyable activities.

Be realistic with yourself and others about what you can manage 

You may simply need to change your expectations for the period and keep them real and achievable.  Change the holiday season to meet your needs and spend time with people who are supportive.  It’s OK to say no to things sometimes.

Remember the five ways to wellbeing

For instance, volunteering during the holiday season is a great way to boost self-esteem and help others who may be going through a difficult time.  You could also strike up a conversation with a stranger or neighbour.  They may appreciate friendship and it could be just the thing you both need to get in the holiday spirit.

Look ahead to 2018 with positive thoughts

As you plan for the year ahead, try to come up with positive and achievable goals that contribute to making you feel positive, healthy and fulfilled and that will give you a great sense of achievement.  A good place to start is to jot down all the positive things you experienced and activities that made you feel good over the year.

Practise mindfulness

Being mindful can be an effective way to cope.  Incorporating breathing and relaxation exercise, practising mindfulness or yoga are great coping strategies to manage emotions that may get stirred up around this time of year.

Try the mindfulness exercise below.

A short mindfulness exercise

• Sit somewhere comfortable – sit upright with your feet touching the floor. Feeling the ground and chair beneath you helps us to feel stable.

• Take long, deep breaths to slow your heart rate down – try to aim for six breaths in and out in one minute; slow it down gradually.

• Place a hand over your stomach as your breathing slows try to feel your stomach moving in and out with each breath. Place your other hand at the top of your chest and aim to keep this hand still.

• Picture yourself feeling calm and confident – close your eyes and imagine yourself in the situation that is making you anxious, and focus on being calm. If you begin to feel anxious, notice this and return your focus to breathing deeply and slowly as this will help you to think clearly.

• Imagine the emotions you want to feel – try to feel the sense of achievement that comes from having done your best, feel what it is like to be calm and able to reach easily for things that you know, notice how much more confident and capable you feel in this mind-set.

• Remember to practice – mindfulness takes practice and there are three important elements. Slow down and be comfortable, use your imagination to create the image of yourself that is most helpful to you, and if your mind wanders (which is okay), guide it gently back.

Spend a few minutes each day repeating this exercise – imagining that sense of relief and calm that will help you to do your best.

When things become tiring or stressful, you will then have this exercise to turn to, to keep you calm. Remember – you can never stop negative thoughts from popping into your head, but with mindfulness you can learn to focus on something else.

Feeling low? Talk to someone

If you are feeling low, you are not alone: help is available.

Talk to someone your trust, speak to your GP, call the NHS on 111, or contact...

  • Samaritans: call 116 123 – available 24 hours a day

  • HOPElineUK (for young people up to 35 who are having thoughts of suicide): call 0800 068 41 41 or text 07786 209697 – available 10am-10pm weekdays, 2pm-10pm weekends, and 2pm-5pm Bank Holidays.


Learn more on our help in a crisis page.