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  • Writer's picturepaulaholahan

Festive Period - Managing yourself

It's hard to believe we are coming to the end of 2020 and for many people at the best of times, this can be a very difficult time of year. Not only are we dealing with the challenge of celebrating Christmas in a different way, not being able to see our family and friends, but families and friends are also facing a future without a loved one who are not around anymore and I am so sorry for your loss.

I'd like to share one of the reasons why I thought sharing this blog might be helpful to you. A few years ago I was seriously ill, thankfully I've recovered but I remember the first Christmas after the illness thinking how I wanted it to be perfect and putting unrealistic expectations on myself and my loved ones. Needless to say Christmas Day was not perfect, in fact, I burnt the dinner and was so exhausted after the day that everybody became stressed. I think I remember that even our dog, Alfie, wouldn't eat the turkey!!!!!

One of the reasons I believe that led it to being so stressful was that I was not honest about my reasons about what I believed the day should look like. I wasn't empathetic to what everyone else wanted because we didn't have that conversation for me to listen to them nor them to me. I wanted it to be perfect, because I had been so ill that I didn't think I would have another Christmas and I wanted to create memories that were picture perfect. But of course life isn't picture perfect, it's all the imperfections that make it perfect.

How can coaching help?

If you notice that you are struggling with the lead up to Christmas and the festive period itself, you might find this tool useful. By becoming consciously aware of what you are thinking, believe what should happen and how you are reacting, you can then manage the situation by focusing on next steps in how to respond and make it better.

  • My problem is:

  • What I believe about the situation is:

  • So what I’m thinking is:

  • So the emotion I’m noticing:

  • Then I react by:

I would love to invite you to think about what you want instead and what small steps you could take to make it better.

  • What I want instead is:

  • When I imagine having this I believe:

  • When I imagine having this I think:

  • Which means the emotion I’m noticing:

  • So what I’m going to do next is:

Rate how useful what you are going to do next between 1-5 (1 least useful and 5 most useful). If you are not at 5 yet, what is stopping you? Write them down. How could you overcome what is stopping you? Sometimes when we do our next step, we might want to take smaller steps to get where we want to in the end.

Remember, be kind to yourself, it's okay for Christmas Day to not be okay and reach out to others if you notice you are feeling lonely. I've included some helplines for anyone who wants them.

I am very grateful to everyone who has read my blog, given me feedback and who has supported me throughout this year and every year!

I wish you all a very merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Take care, Paula


Beat 0808 801 0677 (adult helpline) 0808 801 0711 (youthline) 0808 801 0811 (studentline)

Offers information and advice on eating disorders, and runs a supportive online community. Beat's helpline services will be open 4pm–9pm from 24 December to 1 January. Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) 0800 58 58 58

Provides listening services, information and support for anyone who needs to talk, including a web chat. CALM's helpline services are open 5pm–midnight, 365 days a year. The Compassionate Friends 0345 123 2304 Provides support to bereaved families after the death of a child. The Compassionate Friends helpline is open 10am–4pm and 7pm–10pm every day. Cruse Bereavement Care 0808 808 1677

Information and support after a bereavement. Cruse's helpline opening hours will vary over the Christmas period, although it will be open at least 10am–2pm each day. Men's Advice Line 0808 801 0327

Confidential advice and support for men experiencing domestic violence and abuse by a current or ex-partner or family member. The Men's Advice Line will be closed on 25 and 26 December, and on 1 January. Otherwise, it will be open 9am–8pm Monday to Friday, as usual. Money Advice Service 0800 138 7777 Provides free and impartial money advice. The Money Advice Service helpline will be open 8am–3pm on 24 December and 31 December and closed from 25 to 28 December and on 1 January. Otherwise it will be open Monday to Friday from 8am to 6pm, as usual.

National Domestic Abuse Helpline 0808 2000 247

Free 24-hour helpline for women who have experienced domestic abuse, run by domestic violence charity Refuge. It is run by female advisors. The women's helpline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can contact them online and they will ask for a safe way to respond to you. Relate 0300 003 0396

Provides help and support with relationships, including counselling, telephone counselling and anonymous live chat. We're not sure what Relate are doing over Christmas, and it might vary depending on which branch. It may help to find your nearest Relate and contact them directly. Samaritans 116 123 (freephone) Samaritans are open 24/7 for anyone who needs to talk. You can visit some Samaritans branches in person. Samaritans also have a Welsh Language Line on 0808 164 0123 (7pm–11pm every day). Shout 85258 (text SHOUT)

Confidential 24/7 text service offering support if you are in crisis and need immediate help. Shout's textline is available 24/7, if you are struggling to cope and need to talk. The Silver Line 0800 4 70 80 90

Provides support, information, friendship and advice for older people (over 55) who may feel lonely or isolated. The Silver Line's helpline is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Stand Alone

Charity supporting adults who are estranged (not in contact) from their family. Stand Alone don't have a helpline but their online festive guide might be useful. Survivors of Bereavement by Suicide (SOBS) 0300 111 5065

Emotional and practical support and local groups for anyone bereaved or affected by suicide. The SOBS helpline is open 9am–9pm every day. The Trussell Trust

Emergency food and support for people in need. Includes a searchable list of local foodbanks. Each foodbank will arrange its own Christmas hours. You need a voucher from their referral agency first, so find your nearest foodbank, and find out when their referral agency is open too.

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