Monthly Archives: December 2018

The 12 Ways Of Surviving Christmas

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If you're someone who loves everything about Christmas then this might not be the post for you. However, we're going to assume that you've arrived here because Christmas is a time of year you struggle with.

Us too! Welcome to our exclusive club!

Actually, it's not so exclusive because we know that LOTS of you find this time of year difficult. The problem is that Christmas is promoted as "the most wonderful time of the year" and we end up feeling like we HAVE to put on a front of enjoying ourselves, even though we might be finding it all rather stressful.

The 12 ways of surviving Christmas

So, how can you get through Christmas unscathed relatively unscathed? We've got 12 tips for you in a serious/tongue-in-cheek post.

1. Take yourself away from it all

Yep, that's right. Wrap yourself up tightly in the fluffiest blanket known to man and don't leave the house until it's all over.

Seriously, if you need to stay in and shut yourself away from the world for a little while then do it. It's important to recognise the need for self-care.

Get yourself some nice food, put your favourite DVD/CD on and enjoy the peace and quiet.

2. Surround yourself with positive people

Don't underestimate the power of good people. Friends who lift our spirits can be hard to come by; if you have some then meet up with them.

They may even be people who like Christmas (don't judge!), but if being around them helps lift your mood then give them a call and arrange to meet them.

3. Don't get sucked into pressure of present-buying

Christmas can be financially hard for a lot of people, perhaps more so parents, with the pressure to buy the latest gadgets and toys.

Even if you're not buying for children, you may often feel the pressure of buying a "good enough" present for friends or relatives.

Why not suggest a "Secret Santa" as a way of reducing the pressure of present buying?

A lot of people set a price limit for the present too which helps to keep costs down.

The bottom line is, if they value your company then they won't give a hoot about the value of the present they receive, or even if they receive one.

4. Escape

While [insert generic family member] is peeling the spuds and the rest have nodded off, spy your chance and leg it!

Okay, so if that's not an option, you could say you're just popping to the shop and go out for 30 minutes to get some air and clear your head.

Even better, if there's a dog going spare offer to take it for a walk.

Taking time out of the situation you're in can give you a much-needed break and a chance to breathe and process anything that's causing you stress.

5. Go on holiday

Getting away for a week or two is a great way to avoid all the overwhelm of the festivities. Plus, it's a nice way to treat yourself.

We've done this ourselves and it's been really nice to spend time alone without needing to be sucked into all the "hectic-ness" (not even a word but it should be).

6. Go out to eat

If the thought of wrestling with the turkey or being attacked by the sprouts doesn't float your boat then maybe it's worth going out to eat.

Yes, it's an added expense for all concerned, but it doesn't need to be michelin star and it takes the pressure off needing everything to be perfect.

7. Volunteer

If you'd like to give something back over Christmas then there are plenty of organisations that need volunteers over the festive period.

Helping others at this time of year will not only help you feel good, but it'll get you out of the house if you don't want to be on your own the whole time.

8. Set your boundaries

Attending certain get-togethers might be something you don't feel you can avoid. Or maybe you do want to go, but want to set yourself time limits to avoid the over-whelm. 

Whatever your reasons, it's sometimes good to set people's expectations early on by telling them you can only stay for a certain period of time. That way it's easier when it comes to saying your goodbyes.

9. Worship the internet gods

What better way to avoid the Christmas crowds than by shopping online? We are HUGE advocates of this; we rarely set foot in the shops especially at Christmas time.

You can snuggle down on the sofa in your comfy clothes and trawl the internet for gifts, while smugly scoffing at the people getting into fisticuffs over the latest action-hero-doll-cum-coffee-maker-cum-steam-cleaner.

You can often get things gift-wrapped as well, so what's not to like?

10. Break with tradition

Who actually says that you have to make a traditional Christmas dinner with all the trimmings, or that you have to to adorn your house with tinsel and a Christmas tree?? *gasp*

This is all just a ploy from companies who want you to buy their products, when in reality you can celebrate Christmas in. Any. Way. You. Want. Or not at all.

So, make whatever meal you want. Do a casserole in the slow-cooker/crock-pot if you don't want to be stuck in the kitchen all day. If your relatives would prefer a traditional Christmas dinner then there's nothing stopping them from making it themselves on another day. They have 364 spare ones after all!

Don't bother with the decorations and/or Christmas tree if you don't want to. There are no hard or fast rules.You can do Christmas your own way 🙂

11. Don't take it all on yourself

If you've been forced volunteered to host a festive get-together, that doesn't mean you have to do it all yourself.

For example, you could ask each of your guests to bring round a dish to save you from doing all the cooking.

In fact, bringing people together and everyone contributing to the occasion is a good way of everyone feeling more involved in the experience.

12. Put things in perspective

Try taking a step back from the situation as this can help get some perspective.

Let's face it, a huge aspect of Christmas is that it's an opportunity for thousands of companies to make money. At the end of the day we have a choice as to whether we buy into that. Don't get sucked into the hype.

If you don't have the tree, the traditional dinner, the tinsel, the fancy presents, the Christmas music, the mulled wine, those awful (but funny) Christmas jumpers, that doesn't mean your Christmas is worth less than anyone else's.

In fact, it doesn't mean anything, because all the above is just stuff.

Another thing is that while Christmas is promoted as a time for family, many people don't have, or don't want, family around them. Whatever way you decide to spend the Christmas period, make sure you look after yourself if it's a difficult time.

Best wishes from both of us. We're taking a well-deserved break and will see you in the New Year.


The Suspicious Minds Podcast: Lifting The Lid On Mental Health

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A few months' ago on a Facebook Live, filmed from our Facebook page, Jo talked about wanting to do a podcast about mental health. 

We're extremely pleased and excited to now say that the first season of the podcast is almost ready to launch!

Why host a podcast?

Jo has been a big fan of podcasts for a number of years and likes the fact you can listen to them while you're on the go. Coupled with the enjoyment she gets from connecting with clients in therapy, she wanted to connect with a wider audience on issues of mental health.

What's the podcast about?

This first season of the podcast (we hope to do more in future!) explores different aspects of anxiety. Jo has interviewed professionals and people with lived experience of mental health difficulties to explore these issues in more detail, together with discussing the ways in which people can manage them more effectively.

There are six episodes in total and they cover such subjects as: anxiety in children and young people, a male perspective of anxiety and mental health, Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), and Imposter Syndrome.

Sounds great, but when is the podcast launching??

The first episode will be out in early January 2019, with each of the remaining five episodes being released weekly thereafter.

Where will I be able to find the podcast?

The podcast will be available on iTunes, so make sure you subscribe and give us a rating once you've had a listen, as your ratings help the podcast reach a wider audience!

Plus, if you have any mental health-related topics you'd like the podcast to explore in future then please let us know.

So, keep your eyes peeled early in the New Year as we'll be letting people know once the podcast has officially launched. We hope you enjoy it 🙂


Why Not Everyone Enjoys Christmas

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We all know the drill at this time of year. We're bombarded with adverts about the latest gizmos and gadgets to buy, not to mention articles on how to host the best ever Christmas dinner for the family.

There's a lot of pressure for people to be happy, and to spend however much money it takes to make other people happy. We're not trying to be a pair of grumps, but the fact is not everyone enjoys Christmas and we're going to explain why.

"Christmas is a time for family"

It's true that Christmas is a good time for the family to get together and spend time with one another.

However, there are many people who have lost loved-ones and there's the added pressure to socialise whilst trying to deal with their grief. Even if these loved-ones have been gone for some years, Christmas time may continue to trigger strong emotions. Some people may even have no family around them at all.

Others may not want to spend time with the family they've got for various reasons. There may be those who do see their family and really struggle, but to not see them would cause more conflict.

Families are complex, and we're 99.9% sure that no families are without some sort of difficulties. Therefore, don't assume that everyone wants to see their family at this time of year and that it might actually be a sensitive issue for some.

"Christmas is a time for giving"

There's a huge amount of pressure on people when it comes to buying presents at Christmas time. It might be on the parents whose children want the latest gadgets. Perhaps someone thinks if they spend more money on their spouse this will show the extent of their love for them.

Retailers are more than happy for people to spend their hard-earned money in their stores. They're not interested in the quality of our relationships; they want to make profits!

why not everyone enjoys christmas

However, we don't need to buy into all this hype (no pun intended). We can choose to let go of the pressure of gift-giving and give to each other in more meaningful ways. Volunteering, donating money, clothing, or food to charity are all great ways to give more meaningfully.

Getting friends and family involved in such activities can help to spread the message that there are more enriching ways to give to others, other than focusing on exchanging material possessions.

"Christmas is a time for socialising"

Some people might love the obligatory work Christmas party, or their friends' annual festive outing to a pub or restaurant. However, for others these social occasions can fill them with dread.

Similar to the expectations of getting together with family, there tends to be pressure on people to attend social gatherings. It's almost expected that everyone must want to go out to let their hair down.

The fact is that there are people who are just not into doing this. Perhaps they suffer with social anxiety, where attending such occasions proves extremely difficult, or maybe they just prefer to spend a quiet evening indoors.

Whatever the reason, it's important not to put pressure on those who may choose not to do what we expect at this time of year. No one has to do what others are doing; they can do what feels right for them, whatever that might be 🙂

It's "the most wonderful time of the year"

The fact is, that Christmas is not the most wonderful time of the year for many people. Christmas may evoke a lot of negative emotions such as sadness, loneliness, guilt, and/or regret.

It's important that we don't judge people who we think aren't getting into the "Christmas spirit". It's okay to feel whatever you feel at any time of the year and Christmas is no different, whatever the adverts might have us think.

why not everyone enjoys Christmas

If you know someone who's struggling perhaps ask if they'd like some support. It might be that they decline - perhaps they need time alone for reflection - but at least they know you're there if they want to talk at any point.

Peace, love, and understanding

The message we're trying to give here is, let's try to understand this from both perspectives.

For those who really struggle around Christmas time do what you need to do to look after yourselves. Don't feel that you need to bow to the pressure of what you think you 'should' do in order to fit in. Christmas means different things to different people.

Equally though, we wouldn't recommend shutting yourself away for prolonged periods as that can often make things seem worse. Get support from others if you're struggling. Don't suffer alone and try not to feel as though you're a burden if you admit to others that you're finding things hard. The people who truly care will support you.

For those people out there who do enjoy Christmas, get out there and enjoy the festive season. See friends/family if you want to. Go out for food, dance the night away at the work's Christmas do, and clink those champagne glasses!

However, also bear in mind that other people might not want to do these things, and that's okay. And, if someone does need to talk about why they're struggling, give them some of your time and a listening ear. That might be the best present they receive this Christmas 🙂