Opinion - Surviving loneliness and stress at Christmas time

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It’s that festive time of year and there’s no escaping the joyful sounds of Wizard drifting on the chilly coastal wind.

For some, this is a wonderful time of year surrounded by family and selection boxes, but for others Christmas can be a lonely and stressful time, particularly if you are managing a mental health problem or feeling isolated.

Sophie Hall'CEO'Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind

Sophie Hall'CEO'Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind

The endless resource that is Google provides hundreds of survival guides but here at Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind, we wanted to share some of our suggestions and ideas for looking after yourself.

Take time out – None of us are keen on admitting defeat but it’s fine to say you’re not up to a particular event or visit. Have a bolt hole ready where you can retreat for comfort and quiet whether it’s a bedroom well stocked with books and mince pies or a favourite bit of beach.

A gift to yourself – Treat yourself to something nice or something that you enjoy whether it’s a new bit of tech, a trip to the spa to an afternoon of pyjamas and box sets. There’s nothing selfish about looking after you!

Fresh air – We’re not suggesting everyone turns out for a 10-mile hike but being outside in fresh air with winter sunshine can boost mood. We’re blessed to be surrounded by wonderful countryside and coastline but if that seems daunting, maybe start with a walk around the block or a few minutes out in the garden.

Don’t believe hype – Marketing and social media are powerful tools in the modern world. Sometimes it feels the world is at a party you weren’t invited to … they’re not! If you’re struggling, you aren’t alone, social media doesn’t always reflect the reality! Focus on positive things you have and enjoy basic ‘good stuff’ – sleep well, eat well, connect with the people that matter and enjoy whatever kind of Christmas you want to have.

Don’t be alone (if you don’t want to be). Many people enjoy solo traditions (one suggestion we love was a curry feast and Star Wars marathon) but there are places to go and be social. The Salvation Army in Scarborough do a terrific job on Christmas Day providing lunch to people who may otherwise be on their own, with volunteers to help transport. You need to let them know in advance – our office can give you details.

Support is available – We know reaching out can be difficult but having someone listen can help you feel less alone. The Samaritans provide a wonderful service 24 hours a day, free of charge on 116 123. NYCC provide a mental health helpline on 0333 0000 309. The service is open Monday to Thursday, 5pm to 8.30am, Friday from 4.30pm and 24 hours at weekends or bank holidays.

Scarborough, Whitby and Ryedale Mind will be open until 12pm on Christmas Eve and then re-open on January 2 at 9am. If you want to chat in the run up to Christmas and New Year about worries or would like information about local sources of support then get in touch on 01723 356562.