Sunday, 30 November 2014

Things That Help at Christmas: Giving your Recovery Skills a Christmas Twist

This is the forth post in our series called:

Things That Help at Christmas

4. Giving your Recovery Skills a Christmas Twist

Whether you like it or loathe it, Christmas is going to be stuck in our faces for the foreseeable future. It can be such a difficult time of year for many people who struggle with emotional distress. Maybe this year you could learn to find the joy in Christmas, as we may as well try to create some fun for ourselves. It's never ever too late to create new ways of thinking about this time of year. It's just a matter of changing how you approach it. 

There are plenty of skills you need to learn when you’re recovering from emotional distress or mental illness. Many of these skills need to be practiced daily until they become more natural. And MANY of these skills are just begging for a Christmas twist!

Practicing gratitude: Gratitude helps us appreciate our situation and realise we are far richer in life than we think. Can you name 5 things you are grateful for this Christmastime?

Giving yourself credit: Credit is a tricky one to give to yourself because there’s that drone in your head saying notgoodenough. But actually you need to learn to give yourself credit for all the challenging things you do. It makes you a fighter and you’ll feel a little better if you tell yourself a simple well done me! So what 5 things have you done today/recently that you need to give yourself credit for?

Dreaming: Dreams are key in moving you out of distress. When you’re in the black hole you’ve got to dream big to motivate yourself to climb out. If Christmastime is a tricky time for you, then ask yourself how would you like it to be? Keep in mind you can only control your actions, so what can you do to improve your Christmas and bring it closer to the one you wish for? If you dream of feeling calm at Christmas, then what can you do today to get you closer to that calm state?

Monkey see, monkey do: It’s hard to think straight at Christmas when your head is so busy with negative thoughts. But all around you are people who are at least trying to enjoy the festivities. Learn from them. What are they doing that seems to be making them happy? Are they meeting up with friends? Are they walking around town looking at the lights? Are they watching Christmas movies? Are they baking gingerbread men? Look to others for inspiration and don’t knock it ‘til you try it.

Films: Films are a great way to pull yourself out of your head. If your concentration isn’t great, then Christmastime is actually a great time to watch films, because many of them are geared towards children. Stick on something and pull yourself out of the gloom for an hour.

Music: I know, I know, the songs have gotten so very repetitive haven’t they?! But music is a great mood lifter. There’s even a Christmas radio station every year- Christmas FM. You can listen online, or use YouTube. There’s not need to listen to hours of the stuff, because you’d need the patience of a saint- but try dip in and out of some holiday music for brief periods.

Creature comforts: Christmastime is a great time of year for getting cosy with blankets, woolly socks and hot water bottles. Money might be tight, but most of us have a hot water bottle lurking in the back of the hot press or in the attic. Rescue it!

Candles and lighting: Personally I have found candles to be a very powerful calmer-downer. There are some gorgeous candles out there to buy, but if money is tight, then go to one of the euro shops and buy one of those huge packs of 100 tea lights. Lying in a candlelit room is very calming. I also love being in the darkness with just the Christmas tree lights glowing. If you’re not putting a tree up this year for whatever reason, then there’s lots of little LED lights to buy, which are cheap, and cheerful- and most importantly, do the same job!

Flowers or foliage: I was given a bunch of fresh holly yesterday that someone cut off their holly tree. It’s exactly like the holly on the Christmas cards. I have it all rammed into a vase on the windowsill and I must say it looks nice! I’ve never had it before so it’s completely new for me, and not attached to any memories. Can anyone give you a bunch of holly? Or can you buy some? (See our previous post about flowers here)

Fighting the pull to isolate: This one is tricky I know. The desire to isolate ourselves can be so strong, but connecting with other human beings is vital. Human connection is needed for the soul. Go easy on yourself, I’m not saying to sign up to every Ten Pubs of Christmas you can find, or host The Partaaay of the Season. But phoning someone you care about can be helpful. Christmastime is a time of great difficulty for many because the loneliness gets amplified. You are not the only one, so reaching out to others is a win-win act. Don't forget about animals too! (See our previous post about pet therapy here) You could invite someone for a coffee, a walk in the park, or a mosey about town. You could send a text to tell someone you’re thinking of him or her, or phone someone for a natter. Just reach out to the people in your life, and likely they’ll be grateful you did.

The most important thing to remember is that you have the power to improve any situation. The power is in your hands to make things a little better this year!

Please take care of yourselves,

Love from DareToLiveSOS xxx

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