The 12 days of Christmas might normally make you think of a partridge in a pear tree, five gold rings or eight maids-a-milking.
But this year our members have given the gift of some mental health and wellbeing tips to help you get through the festive period.
Their comments range from practical tips and self-care advice, to ways to reframe your thinking or how to reach out for support if you or friends and family are struggling this winter.
They’ve shared their thoughts below – and we’ll be posting their comments across our social media channels each day between Christmas Day and 5 January.
Day 1 – 25 December
“Accept that you’re not responsible for other people’s enjoyment. You’re not Santa! If you have children, it’s not about how many presents you buy or where you take them; spending time together is the most important thing.”
Natasha Page, of This is Me Counselling, in Nottingham
The power of laughter
Day 2 – 26 December
“Strengthen your relationships and immune system with laughter. Laughter realises the hormone called oxytocin which helps bond individuals and groups together. It also increases our antibodies, which help our body fight infection and disease. So those Christmas cracker jokes could have some benefits for you.”
Nicola Vanlint, of Greenwich Wellness Rooms, London
Pay attention to the present
Day 3 – 27 December
“Try to pay attention to the present. Worrying about what might happen in the future, or what has happened in the past distracts you from enjoying what's happening right now. Look around you and enjoy the small moments - the tree, presents, the love and warmth of family and friends, food and drink and the many reasons to celebrate.”
Katie Rose, of Chigwell Therapy Centre, London
Walk for the joy of it
Day 4 – 28 December
“Go for a walk but don’t count the steps. Walk for the joy of it instead. Set time aside whether it's five minutes or 30 minutes - whatever suits you. Step outside, let your mind wander, take in your surroundings. There are so many positive physical and mental health benefits from a simple walk. Enjoy!”
One kind thing for yourself
Day 5 – 29 December
"Find time to do one kind thing for yourself every day - the sort of thing you’d do for someone else if you knew they were struggling and wanted to look after them. A soothing hot bath, a nice meal, a leisurely walk, or some time with a good book. If you’re not sure what to do, have a “mental health first aid kit” ready, and pick something out of there. This can be a ‘grab bag’ for emergencies; a basket of some items that you know will soothe you during stressful times. The most important thing is that this should be mindful time dedicated entirely to you and nobody else."
Make plans to connect in 2022
Day 6 – 30 December
“If you're not able to be physically with loved ones this winter, it doesn’t mean you can’t share the season. You could plan together to connect with a local charity or join a new club that will give you chances to connect with others during 2022."
Reduce your desire for control
Day 7 – 31 December
“Reduce your desire for control - we’ve come through various changes and restrictions in the past year. Finding some internal peace and acceptance in this area, can reduce stress and support our mental health and wellbeing.”
Deone Payne-James, a therapist based in South East London.
Focus on smaller changes
Day 8 – 1 January
“Life is a process of beginnings and endings. As we move out of the festive period and into a new year become conscious of your ability to design your life in a way that works for you. Focus on what smaller changes you can make today by setting micro-goals to help motivate and encourage balanced life.”
Andy Garland, a Cardiff-based therapist
Open a conversation
Day 9 - 2 January
“If you’re worried about a friend or family member who’s struggling with their mental health, often small everyday actions can make the biggest difference. Opening a dialogue with something as simple as “I notice you’re going through something difficult right now. How can I best support you?” can sometimes be the first step in someone seeking support.”
Baljit Kamal, of Wellspace Therapy.
Read more about how to get help for someone else.
Have a worry dump
Day 10 – 3 January
"Journals are a great outlet for anxiety - some people find it helpful to have a 'worry dump', writing your worries down can help to organise your thoughts and dilute the intensity of your anxiety"
Rebecca Vivash, a therapist based in Northampton
Coping with the unexpected
Day 11 – 4 January
"The past few weeks have been full of unexpected events for many of us. Recognise that people may respond in different ways to the unexpected. For some people who are neurodiverse, surprises are never ‘nice’.
Sarah Press, of Mind Your Mind, based in Oakham, Leicestershire
Acceptance is important
Day 12 – 5 January
“Acceptance is a really important foundation for happiness and wellbeing. Try to be your natural self and not what you think others expect from you. If you’re struggling, seeking professional help is a really powerful act of self-care.”
Dee Johnson, of Mind Soup Therapy, based in Essex
You can find a counsellor or psychotherapist who can help you via our therapist directory.
What is counselling?
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How to get therapy
Where and how you can get access to counselling and psychotherapy, including free and paid for services
What therapy can help with
An A-Z list of issues and concerns which may be helped by talking to a counsellor.