With the festive period upon us it is a busy time of shopping, decorating, cooking, volunteering, wrapping; the list is endless. But for some people this doesn’t resonate. Life can be a lonely place; no family or friends to share the occasion or maybe homeless and sofa surfing or living on the streets. Whatever the circumstances it is not always the perfect time we see on social media, advertising or the image portrayed by people around us. When thinking of trying to make the perfect environment and buying the best gift, it is worth considering what support can be given to those people who will be alone, or to helping a neighbour or someone elderly. When it is cold and wet, offering support at a shelter which provides a Christmas meal and a warm place or providing a gift to someone unable to afford to buy a gift for their children.
It should be a time of giving whether that be to ourselves or those closest to us or within our communities. Surviving this time of year and reducing our stress levels should not be seen as not meeting others expectations. Getting into debt to provide the perfect gift that may be returned or exchanged in the New Year or making promises that can never be honoured is no help to anyone.
How can you survive the festive period and remain calm? Some ideas to spread the load:
- Don’t feel the pressure to do more than you feel you can
- Live within your means; remembering we place expectations on ourselves to deliver the perfect Christmas
- Try not to leave planning to the last moment
- Show compassion to others and think about people who will be on their own
- Be kind to yourself and make time for you and enjoy something that relaxes you
- Don’t over eat and remember – this is only one day
- Get involved in your local community and make someone smile
- If you are feeling out of touch with someone, give them a phone call, email or talk online
- Alcohol can be seen as a way of relaxing but it is important to remember it is a depressant
- Do something active to help relax and boost your mood
- Go for a walk, cycle or join in with a Christmas game to improve self-esteem and help to boost your immune system to fight off colds and flu
If the holiday period is difficult and there are times of crisis, it is important to remember there are people with a listening ear –
Samaritans (Freephone telephone number 116 123)
Surrey Drug and Alcohol Care offer a 24 hour helpline which includes support for people for their mental wellbeing (0808 802 5000)
In Surrey there are Safe Havens providing out of hours help and support to people and their carers who are experiencing a mental health crisis or emotional distress.
There are five Safe Havens open in town centre locations across Surrey and North East Hampshire to residents of any district or borough within this area. For example, if you live in Epsom you could go to the Guildford Safe Haven.
They are open evenings, weekends and bank holidays including Christmas, Boxing Day, New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day and are designed to give adults a safe alternative to A&E when in crisis (please see individual services for detailed opening times).
Each Safe Haven is staffed by a mental health practitioner from Surrey and Borders Partnership and two trained Safe Haven workers. Peer support from people with lived experience of mental health issues is also increasingly available. See links for individual details.
- Safe Haven, Aldershot
- Safe Haven, Epsom
- Safe Haven, Guildford
- Safe Haven, Redhill
- Safe Haven, Woking
Have a safe and peaceful time.