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5 Tips for Surviving the Festive Season

City life isn't always easy. That's why we've teamed up with Self Space to give Collective members regular access to qualified therapists. Run by an innovative team of experts, they provide one to one and group sessions on everyday mental maintenance.  

With Christmas coming up and all the associated tensions, we thought we’d ask them for some handy tips to keep our minds healthy over the break. 

The festive period can be tough. It can remind us of bereavements, separations and isolation; and very often sees stress levels rise. Then there are family tensions, financial pressures, changes to our routine, and increased alcohol and food consumption to contend with. It's important not to push yourself too hard over this period and make the decisions that are right for you. Here's five handy tips from the experts to help you do just that. 

1. Make Space for Rest 

As December begins, some are frantically busy, and some have schedules emptier than they would like. Either way, this time of year can be full of emotionally charged interactions (with ourselves, our family, friends, and colleagues).  

Allow yourself to say no to obligations and schedule in time for rest. Mark out at least 1 hour a day for rest. It doesn't have to be passive rest (although that can be good too). You could listen to a podcast, meditate make something with your hands. Whatever leaves you feeling rested. 

2. Let go of expectations 

We tend to put special significance on the festive season as a ‘time for family’. This expectation can place additional pressure on already strained relationships, particularly with family we don’t see very often. Being realistic about what we can expect from this time together will help us avoid disappointment and prevent arguments.  

The idyllic, harmonious, cinematic image around the dinner table is far from reality for most of us. Time with family can be messy, awkward and sometimes regressive. It's important to accept this and not to hold on too tightly to how we think it 'should be'.  

3. Tune in 

It is all too easy to neglect our own needs around this time of year. We're under increasing demand inside and outside of our workplaces with nearing deadlines, staff parties, drinks with friends and family time.  

To prevent getting too caught up in the hustle and bustle, begin to tune in to what your own, personal needs are. Start each morning with some stretching, yoga practice or deep mindful breathing. Tune into what you’re feeling and ask yourself: what are my three biggest needs today? This way, you can begin to cultivate a sensitivity towards your capacity.  

It’s okay not to go to the party. It’s okay not to drink. It’s good to spend time coming back to yourself. 

4. Connect with others 

Got number 3 nailed? Consider how you can contribute to your community, leveraging your privilege while also balancing your needs. Sometimes self-care only offers temporary relief. Lift your gaze and think about community care. Helping others can really give us a sense of purpose, meaning and gratitude. 

If you’re able to give more than you need to receive, do so. Depending on who you are and your strengths, this might mean listening to someone who needs to be heard, cooking a meal for friend, reaching out to someone who is lonely, supporting a friend financially, volunteering and so on. 

5. Reflect on the year just passed and celebrate personal triumphs 

You just got through another year and survived the lot. Through every struggle, every change and transition, through every dark moment: you are here and your interpersonal world is a better place for it. 

Although it’s important to look towards the year ahead and have things to aim towards, try not to set unrealistic New Year’s Resolutions. They have the tendency to leave us feeling resentful by April. Instead, let this be a season for taking stock. Do a personal inventory of all of your achievements over the year just passed. Write them as a list, draw them, paint them and read them back to yourself. Soak it in and recognise your value. 

If you’re not a Collective member and need to chat with a qualified person over the festive season, Self Space are open across the holidays. You can book for some mental maintenance face-to-face, over the phone or via Skype.