Friday, 23 December 2011

For those unhappy at Christmas...

The Christmas season is such a joyful time - families gathering together sharing food, memories and good cheer...

...or is it?

For many it is a time of tension, hurt and pain – those expectations, hopes and dreams lying in tatters.  There are families with members who don’t really get along during the rest of the year who come together determined that it will be different but, fuelled by too much alcohol and food things go totally pear shaped as the cabin fever hits.

The streets are full of people hurrying about their tasks; shopping for presents, the special Christmas outfit, festival food and drink.  This is the image the advertisers want to promote - buy this, buy that and all your dreams will be realised with everyone happy and smiley.

...but there are those who struggle to  drag themselves out of bed,  those who wonder where their next meal will come from, those whose families are far away, whose friends have all left for the holidays. Most cultures and religions have festivals and rituals in the middle of winter for a reason – to bring light and hope to the darkest and bleakest time of the year. For those unable to participate it can be hard to see that as we have just passed the Winter solstice on 21st December, the days will begin to lengthen, as the darkness gradually retreats.

For many, this is a time of despair, loneliness and sadness.  It is important to recognise the danger signs of dark winter days, cold nights, and dashed expectations. There is less opportunity to get out and about into the fresh air, to meet with friends who may be busy with their own families, to take part in the usual activities that keep us healthy and focussed and in touch with people to help and support us.

If you know someone who is suffering, alone or vulnerable, keep an eye on them.  Call them up, invite them over and remember to listen to the thoughts behind the words – I’m fine.

Remind them that you care for them, they are not alone and there is hope.

Here are some resources both for you when you want to help or for you needing it.

www.mind.org.uk  Lots of help and advice for coping at this time of year.  Blogs from people who have been there

www.samaritans.org  Someone to talk to when you are feeling low

NHS Direct 08454647 This is a 24 hour helpline

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