Here's some great advice from our friends at Mental Health First Aid to help you over the Festive period and beyond.

The Moodscope Team.

Christmas can be a magical time... from the social gatherings with family, parties with friends and work colleagues, the exchanging of gifts, to a break from work… But, for almost everyone, Christmas can be a busy time – and ultimately create another 'layer' in our 'Stress Bucket'.

A key concept during Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) training is teaching participants how crucial it is to be able to effectively reduce layers of stress using our 'coping tap', to prevent our 'Stress Bucket' from overflowing.

The Stress Bucket analogy is an excellent demonstration of how indiscriminate mental ill health really is, and how easy it is for anyone who doesn't use helpful coping techniques, to develop problems. The size of our buckets (and we all have one) varies - and so for someone more vulnerable to experiencing mental ill health or at the very least, the ill effects of excess stress – may have a smaller bucket.

The 'stress-layers' that flow into our buckets are often those 'normal' daily life events - but they can also include other sources of stress including environmental stress –for example at Christmas time there is additional pressure whether it be financial, social or just the feeling that time is running away from you.

In basic terms, LIFE fills our stress buckets, and in order to reduce those layers in our buckets MHFA teaches self-help strategies i.e. 'the coping tap', to reduce those layers of stress to a manageable level.

Examples of helpful coping may include: talking to a friend, asking for help, ensuring you get adequate exercise and are eating well. This Christmas, try not to spend more than you can afford on presents because those who value and love you will know that it really is the thought that counts. Or if you feel you are running around like a headless chicken, it is time to build in some proper R&R. It is also worth thinking about how much alcohol we drink over the festive season because the cumulative effect can have negative impact on our mood.

Most of all this Christmas, enjoy the time spent with loved ones and take a moment to reflect on what changes you would like to make in the New Year to ensure your stress bucket doesn't overflow from January through to December.

Dawn Collins


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