A mental health charity is urging people to give themselves the gift of time and kindness this Christmas.
The message, from Mind, comes with only days to go until the big day, and the pressure of trying to make it perfect could mean some people are well on the way to reaching their breaking point.
People are being encouraged to take a step back and to try to do something for themselves – in particular those who are already caring for loved ones.
A spokesman for Mind, said: “For most of us, Christmas is a time for thinking of others, but we must also remember to think of ourselves.
“The old adage of looking after yourself to be able to look after others is so true.
“It is so important to give yourself permission to take time out from all the gift giving, party preparations and cooking to make sure you take care of yourself.
“This can help not only to prevent some problems getting worse, but may even stop them developing at all.
“You can enjoy the festivities without the unnecessary stress.”
One person who took to self-care to help boost her mental health and wellbeing said: “Being overweight and diabetic – not to mention my fear of touch – meant that going to a spa and taking part in sessions of reflexology, Reiki and back massage, wasn’t easy.
“But, after enjoying the treatments so much, I now take time out to go regularly.
“It has been helped my mood improve, helped my fear of touch and I have also now got control over my diabetes. I’ve gone on to lose over a stone in weight, which has also improved the way I feel about myself.
Our series of articles in the run-up to Christmas, supported by Hartlepool and East Durham Mind, aims to encourage people to reach out to others and let those struggling know support is available.
Today, people are being asked to be their own best friend. Do something or say something nice about themselves.
Experts say people often beat ourselves up and talk to ourselves in a way they would not dream of talking to others. Be nice to yourself.
For information on how to improve your own mental health wellbeing visit www.mind.org.uk
Mind has issued the following advice to help people take care of themselves in the run-up to Christmas and beyond.
l Exercise: Physical activity can boost mental wellbeing and change your outlook on life. It can help people with anxiety and depression – even preventing those problems from developing in he first place.
The important thing is to choose something you enjoy so you stick at it. If you are physically disabled, contact a local disability group about exercises you can do.
l Relax: Christmas can be a very busy period for many people so try to make time to slow done and relax. Give yourself permission to take time out from the hustle and bustle. Planned relaxation calms anxiety and helps your body and mind recover from everyday rush and stress.Music, reading, a long soak in the bath or a walk in the park can help you to relax or taking part in something you enjoy.
l Sleep: This is the time of year when it is all too easy not to get enough sleep. We may have more physical and emotional activity than normal during the 12 days of Christmas. Making sure you have enough, sleep can help you cope better with any difficult feelings and experiences.
l Laugh: Laughter relaxes the whole body. A good hearty laugh relieves physical tension and stress.
l Ask for help: You don’t have to do everything yourself, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. If you have worries or concerns, talk to someone about them – don’t let them spoil your Christmas.