Mental Wellbeing at Christmastime
The run up to Christmas and the main event itself can be challenging for some people. Some may find it an even more difficult time to live with a mental health problem, others may be anxious about how they will afford presents and food for everyone.
Perhaps this is the first Christmas you’ll be without a loved one, or are facing the day alone. You may have another reason entirely to feel unhappy. During the month of December, we will focus on some of the pain points surrounding Christmas, and offer guidance to resources and support that may help.
We’ll also keep you updated on what’s happening in the area over December, and ways you can contribute, should you wish to.
23rd December – Eating and drinking problems over Christmas
The festive season can be very difficult for those struggling with an eating disorder. Thoughts of work parties, meals out and food on the day itself can be very overwhelming.
SWWMind are very pleased to contribute to the Neighbourhood Mental Health Teams’ Eating Disorder Workstream Meetings. Part of the work this team is involved in is the promotion and facilitation of the FREED project.
FREED is First Episode Rapid Early Intervention for Eating Disorders. It is a service for 16 to 25-year-olds who have had an eating disorder for three years or less.
Young people getting help for their eating disorder through FREED are given rapid access to specialised treatment which gives special attention to challenges we know young people face during these years of their life, and in the early stages of an eating disorder.
FREED is a flexible evidence-based treatment approach focused on early intervention; making it much more effective than traditional treatments at reversing the changes to brain, body and behaviour caused by eating disorders.
Please see our graphics above where @freedfromed have shared some tips on how to seek help if you are experiencing eating difficulties, as well as some helpful contact details.
Worcestershire Eating Disorder Service: 01527 488840
22nd December – What’s on in the area next week?
21st December – Take a moment to Breathe
Deep breathing is known to reduce anxiety, help people to sleep and reduce anger responses.
Take time out during this busy time of year and try the 4-7-8 technique:
- Place the tip of the tongue on the tissue right behind the top front teeth.
- Empty the lungs of air.
- Breathe in quietly through the nose for 4 seconds.
- Holding your breath for a count of 7 seconds.
- Exhale forcefully through the mouth, pursing the lips, and make a ‘whoosh’ sound for 8 seconds.
- Repeat the cycle up to 4 times.
20th December – Family struggles
Wouldn’t it be lovely if Christmas and families coexisted in perfect harmony, like scenes out of a Coca Cola ad? The reality is that the festive season can trigger anxiety about facing family conflict head-on, depression because of loved-ones that are no longer with us, or the stress of presenting the perfect Christmas dinner to relatives you see once a year.
If you’re concerned about family dynamics at Christmastime:
- Plan ahead. Can you predict what may happen that will cause conflict, and can you minimise it? For example, if you’re at a relative’s home and things can deteriorate later on when some have had a few too many, make sure you’ve pre-booked a lift or set a time you’ve ‘got’ to leave.
- But don’t plan too much! As in, don’t schedule back-to-back engagements. The continual late nights, over-indulgence and constant excitement can have a detrimental effect on mental wellbeing. You don’t have to say yes to everything.
For more helpful suggestions on how to approach family gatherings at Christmas, check out the BBC Good Food Website: https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/dealing-with-conflict-over-christmas
19th December – Less than a week to go. Not feeling it?
Not counting down the days with excitement? You’re not alone. Look after yourself this Christmas.
Not feeling it? You don’t have to celebrate Christmas, and you don’t need to justify it to anyone.
Remind yourself that the festive period doesn’t last forever. You could set a ‘start’ and ‘finish’ time for what you count as ‘Christmas’.
Identify a list of friends and family that you can call on, and when you might need their support.
For further support this Christmas, check out these suggestions taken from the Mind website
We’re here for you, 24/7. If you need support:
Call 01905 600400 if you’re in Worcestershire
01789 298615 if you’re in Warwickshire, anytime.
17th December – Festive furry friends!
16th December – I donate because…
15th December – What’s on in the area next week?
14th December – How nature helps our service users with their mental health
This week, we caught up with some of our volunteers and service users of our Green Minds projects in Leamington and Stratford. Some people can find it a real struggle to get out in the winter months, yet we know how beneficial being outdoors is to your mental health. Take a look at what they’re currently up to in the winter months.
13th December – A time of thanks!
As well as our awesome partners, we’d also like to say a huge thank you to all of our volunteers and trustees, without whom we wouldn’t be able to achieve what we do.
Our Green Minds volunteer team, led by Keith and Trevor, turn up week in, week out to provide wholesome outdoor activity and peer support for people in need. Our training team volunteer, Paol Stuart-Thomson, gives a day every single week to further raise awareness of mental health issues and break down the associated stigma. Our wellbeing group volunteers provide critical support to ensure that peer support groups run smoothly. And a big shout out to our new recruits as well, who’ve been so inspiring in their commitment and passion to make a difference. It’s an exciting time for volunteering at South Warwickshire & Worcestershire Mind as we embark on new projects and support more people, and we can’t thank our volunteers enough for making this possible.
We would also like to extend our sincere gratitude to our trustees for generously volunteering their ongoing time and expertise. Your commitment is instrumental in helping us with our quest for better mental health across south Warwickshire and Worcestershire.
Finally a huge thank you to those who fundraise and support us in reaching more people every day. From participating in fun runs and selling home made gifts to buying raffle tickets and holding coffee mornings, your support means the world to us.
12th December – Let’s support more people this Christmas
Christmas isn’t a wonderful time for everyone, especially for those of us with a mental health problem.
Last year, South Warwickshire and Worcestershire Mind supported over 7000 people their mental health. Here’s what some of our service users had to say:
“You truly saved my life; I cannot thank you enough. SWWMind came into my life and reminded me how to be me, how to appreciate the good things that exist in my life and how to smile again.”
“I felt that Christmas should be a time for love and peace, but I felt I didn’t bring anything to my family at Christmas. And that was the worst and hardest feeling. That was when I knew I needed to make a change.”
“I kept telling myself I was meant to be happy, that crying into my wrapping paper made me a failure.”
“Christmas, for me, is like being in a lockdown. Now I have found SWWMind, it feels like I have someone to talk to and I’m not alone.”
“The support from SWWMind has been brilliant and it really does help. I know that you are going to call me once a week, you’ll ask how I am and you care.”
Thanks to support from people like you, we can continue to help our local communities during difficult times and adapt to meet the rising demand. But there is much more to be done. And more people who need support.
Click here to donate today and help us raise £5000 before Christmas Eve.
11th December – Encouraging a Conversation
- Ask questions and listen. Asking questions can give the person space to express how they’re feeling and what they’re going through, and it will help you to understand their experience better. Try to ask questions that are open and not leading or judgmental, like “how does that affect you?”, “what does it feel like?”, “how have you been feeling lately”
- Talking side-by-side can be easier. Try talking whilst walking, in the car or whilst cooking
- Sometimes a text is a smaller step. Try checking in with a friend over text, they may be more likely to open up
- Don’t try and fix it. It can be hard to see someone you care about having a difficult time and they’ve likely already considered lots of different tools and strategies. Just talking can be really powerful, so unless they’ve asked for advice directly, it might be best just to be there, and to listen.
- Find common ground. Someone may be more likely to open up if they think you can relate to them. “I’ve felt like that in the past”, “I understand how that must make you anxious”, “I know what you mean”.
- Treat them the same. When someone has a mental health problem, they’re still the same person as they were before. When a friend opens up about mental health, they don’t want to be treated any differently. If you want to support them, keep it simple, and try and do the things you’d normally do.
- Keep them in the loop. Someone with a mental health problem may become withdrawn and reticent about socialising. Continue to include them in plans, but don’t push too hard for them to attend. This will reassure them that they are not forgotten and remind them that their friends will still be there for them when they are ready to reengage.
- Be patient. Mental health problems are often more complex than physical problem, and they can require time and patience to improve and heal. It can often feel like two steps forward and one back, just being there for a loved-one is often the best thing you can do.
10th December – Our Winter Appeal
9th December – Reflecting on a year of wonderful partnerships
We’d like to say a huge thank you to our amazing Corporate Partners who have been going above and beyond in 2023.
Some highlights from the year:
Alsters Kelley Solicitors have been supporting SWWMind and The Luca Foundation through various fundraising events, taking part in awareness training, and have been strong advocates for Mental Health Awareness.
Amplifi – who have chosen SWWMind and York Mind as their charities of the year.
VIP Fitness – who are passionate about raising awareness for better mental health and wellbeing, and were a huge support with our recent Mental Elf event.
Leamington Brakes FC – who invited SWWMind along to two of their fixtures to promote mental health and wellbeing.
Thank you to our other amazing Partners who have helped raise the profile of mental health across South Warwickshire and Worcestershire:
- Make Good Grow
- The Oddfellows Heart of England District Branch
- Herefordshire and Worcestershire Wellbeing and Recovery College
- Recovery Wellbeing Academy
- Bluebird Care Bromsgrove & Redditch
8th December – What’s on in the area next week?
7th December – Groups happening in South Warwickshire
GREEN MINDS: Gardening and horticultural therapy led by our friendly and green-fingered volunteers.
Stratford: Monday winter times, 11:15am – 12:15pm. Stratford-upon-Avon Allotment at Lifeways Therapy Centre, 30 Albany Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 6PG.
Leamington Men’s Group: Tuesdays 10:00am – 12:00pm. Northumberland Road Allotments, Leamington Spa, CV32 6HB.
Leamington Mixed Group: Wednesday 10:00am – 12:00pm. Northumberland Road Allotments, Leamington Spa, CV32 6HB.
WELLBEING GROUPS: Led by one of our friendly and experienced practitioners, let us know you’re coming.
Stratford, Men Connect: Wednesdays 10:30am – 12:30pm. The Fred Winter Centre, 41 Guild Street, Stratford upon Avon CV37 6QY
Stratford, Mixed Group: Fridays 10:30am – 12:30pm. The Fred Winter Centre, 41 Guild Street, Stratford upon Avon CV37 6QY
DROP INS: Just pop along for a coffee and chat.
Stratford: Mondays 10:00am – 12:00pm. The Fred Winter Centre, 41 Guild Street, Stratford upon Avon CV37 6QY.
Shipston Warm Hub: Thursdays 10:00am – 12:00pm. Shipston Scout Hut, New Street, CV36 6EW.
6th December – The cost of Christmas
Are you concerned about affording Christmas presents this year, or has the cost-of-living crisis pushed your cash flow to its limit?
This article on the mind.org.uk website talks about the various financial strains of the festive season, how to access support, and further insights.
To speak to someone now, don’t forget our helplines are open 24/7:
5th December – Social anxiety during the festive period
If a stacked social calendar in the run-up to Christmas isn’t filling you with warm yuletide joy and cheer, you’re not alone. According to mind.org.uk, a huge 1 in 4 adults feel anxious about festive social gatherings. So much so, that nearly 20% of people will pretend to be ill to get out of a work Christmas event. The article goes on to discuss the common excuses people will make, and also the broader reasons that trigger anxiety during the Christmas period – like loneliness, insomnia and an increase in alcohol consumption.
For more information and support available, read our blog on social anxiety disorder here.
4th December – How to cope with stress
Christmas is a time for celebrating and enjoying time with family and friends. Unfortunately, it can also be a time for additional stress and anxiety, particularly during the planning phase.
If you’re feeling your body temperature rise at the thought of what lies ahead this month, these articles on the National Mind website might help:
3rd December – Will this be your first Christmas without a loved one?
Navigating the loss of a loved one is challenging all year-round, but for many, it’s much harder at Christmas. In the following blog (on the Mind.org.uk website), Lynn shares her poignant journey of coping with the heartbreaking loss of her daughter, Ruth, to suicide. She talks about how she has found solace and strength in the therapeutic art of crafting during these trying times.
Trigger Warning: This blog talks about suicide, sectioning and admission to hospital.
Experiencing grief is challenging and often stressful experience that nearly everyone will encounter at some point in their life. Despite this, trying to predict how we might react to a loss is very difficult, because everyone’s journey will be different.
This article from the mind.org.uk website outlines the different stages of grief and how you might expect to feel if you’ve recently lost a loved-one.
2nd December – Need support in the middle of the night?
Our support lines are open 24/7. If you need support, call us, anytime.
We also have a twilight service, Worcestershire Safe Haven, which offers both telephone and face-to-face support. Lines are open between 6pm – 1am every evening.
Call 01905 600 400.