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It’s Here Again

Christmas Could be the Worst Time of Year!

Christmas starts earlier every year it seems. Products in the shops, adverts on the telly, marketing emails and flyers each promising perfect experiences. I have had some of my most difficult and challenging emotional times at Christmas so these reminders of what the Festive Season can bring are not very welcome for me.

There was the time when it started to snow heavily on Christmas Eve and I still had not collected the turkey from the butcher. Then I got caught behind a bus that was struggling to get up the hill on the only road to get to the village. What a panic attack that was! Or the day when I had delivered some presents locally and a friend rang to tell my wife that I had dropped off the wrong present to them so of course she expected me to revisit everyone to check that they had the correct ones! I rarely get that angry and still feel guilty for shouting at the innocent chap who told me how wonderful Christmas was as a time for giving.

The good news for me, my family and friends is that thanks to learning about Stress Control and discovering how to practice Mindfulness I now approach life with a much more positive attitude; I can do things to prevent emotional and mental health difficulties and if something does go wrong I now have strategies to help and to sort things out.

The Stress Control course has taught me ways of managing my thinking habits and of solving problems in ways that are effective. The change in feelings and attitudes when I have been able to work something out has given me confidence to face the future. Perhaps the most helpful thing has been to learn how to prioritise the things I have to do and the things that I worry about having to do to keep other people happy.

Mindfulness helps in the moment as I feel panic or anger starting. Now that I have ways of breathing that calm me down and help me focus on what is actually happening in each moment, I do not fear the tightening of my chest or a racing pulse. I have learnt that some thoughts are warning signs when they return. ?How am I going to get everything done in time?? is the worst. I feel anxious just writing it down!

Time for some breathing and then some thinking work to list, prioritise and to make decisions.

If you?d like to attend one of our free Mindfulness and Stress Control courses in January, please check out our timetable here: http://valleyssteps.org/course-information/courses/

By Jonathan Richards

Chair Trustee