More tips to help survive Christmas!

imagesWell, we say ‘survive’ but really it is all a matter of planning, arranging and agreeing to a festive season that suits your needs whilst supporting other family members and friends who might also find Christmas a difficult time.

December, for example, is a month in which many relationships struggle as the stress of organising who goes where when and with what becomes simply overwhelming. Jane Gotto here at The Terrace has always worked to pull together all the best Christmas tips that she has used over many years of working in relationship and couples counselling and today we wanted to share a few more, as we approach the last week before the ‘big day’.

Today we want you look at whether you are a classic Christmas ‘grump’ ‘Grinch’ or Ebeneezer Scrooge. 

Is there  a reason (either in the recent past  or back in your family history) why Christmas lowers your mood. Were you ‘made’ to feel the Christmas Spirit, or forced to continue in a particular ritual without enjoying it?  Or was there an event which still evokes difficult memories? These are all ‘Christmas Spirit killers’ and understandably so.
You might want to create your own ritual – one that is personal and authentic and connects you to who you actually are, rather than joining the Christmas mad rush.

Pay particular attention to what is important to you; you may want to see special friend(s) or spend time with one member of your family rather than all of them.

Think about planning and preparing a meal you enjoy, or creating your own spiritual practice – meditation or quiet time can be important as a hectic day threatens to overwhelm. There is nothing wrong with taking time to read a book or watch a film that interests you or simply spending time alone.

Remember, getting it right for you often gets it right for others too.

Do you have any Christmas tips you can share with us here at The Terrace? We would love to hear from you.

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Coping with the stress of Christmas

Guinea-Pig-in-lightsThis is the third Christmas on the ‘let’s talk!’ blog and here at The Terrace we like to share our hints and tips for coping with the stress and strain of the season. However one celebrates at this time of year, it is impossible to avoid the crush in the shops, the inflated prices and the temptations of food and alcohol that can lead to those ‘morning after’ feelings and affect our overall well-being at this  time of year. Coughs, colds and other bugs adore the warm, wet weather we have had so far and the last thing we want is illness to drag us down when so much needs doing. We are at risk of scuttling round like this gorgeous guinea pig, ending up under the duvet and desperate to avoid all the trials and tinsel.

Jane Gotto has come up with some wonderful ideas over the years, and here we offer more of her thoughts on how to cope over the coming weeks. Today we focus on that awkward moment when you are making final arrangements for the days over the holiday:

Think about what you would like to do for Christmas

If final plans are not yet made, and you dread some of the options open to you, take time to make sure days are, as far as is possible, arranged in the way you would like them to be. If necessary, come up with alternatives and check with family and friends if you are concerned that changes may affect them.
Do NOT allow yourself to be pulled into an arrangement which you know is
not going to work for you. It IS just a few days in the year, and the temptation is to think only about making others happy (that is what we all hope to do at this time of year after all) but the anxiety and stress can be present  for weeks in the lead up and can effect health, sleep and general well-being for a long period. 

Come back early next week for some more wise words from Jane, who has years of experience in supporting individuals and couples through testing times. Christmas can be great fun, but it can also put a strain on the closest bonds….

If you fancy a pre Christmas massage, our therapist Sarah Sellick still has a few appointments available at a reduced rate. Or why not buy a loved one a relaxing massage for Christmas? Contact us about gift vouchers on 01823 338968.

On a Mindful Christmas contentment. Why can’t we just ‘be happy’?

trolleyLots of Christmas shopping was done over the weekend. We woke up in the knowledge that money needed to be spent,  car park spaces must be battled  for and crowds coped with. It was daunting, but ’tis the season…’ and all that – jolliness is required of us. Here at The Terrace we do like to offer support to readers over the festive season, but in the rush of consumer madness that is challenging.

So it was good to come across a piece by our own Miranda Bevis, mindfulness practitioner and leader of many of our workshops and courses. She recognises that the real world makes living in the moment (the basis of mindfulness practice) tough, but maintains that with work we can achieve a peace and level of contentment in many of those situations that threaten to overwhelm us. Here she offers some wise words on becoming content. How much of the ‘stuff’ we accumulate over the Christmas period do we actually need? We have written on here about looking at our rituals and making a decision to change. No more three for two gift sets, over indulgence and post Christmas strain on relationships – and perhaps creating new ways to celebrate the things that are important to us.

This time of year should be reflective, a time to take stock, but we have to admit that major changes  to seasonal celebrations are best planned rather earlier than mid-December when many of our presents are bought and paid for and meals planned etc. So, take a look at what Miranda writes below, and have a think about how we can appreciate the things we have already. Then perhaps we can take steps this year to enhance our Christmases to come.

Scanning the weekend newspaper supplements, I find so many articles and advertisements telling us how we could (should?) change: How to get fitter, thinner, look younger; give your garden a makeover, re-design your interiors. Revitalize your love life, spice up your cookery and your sex life (because you’re worth it). There is no end of things that we could change for “the better”. And of course, change is supposed to be good for us; after all, we wouldn’t want to be bored or get stale, or allow ourselves to get into a rut, would we? We “deserve” more, we “have a right” to more. We should seek out new excitements, discover new thrills, acquire new things, visit new places, meet new people.

“Now and then it’s good to pause in ourAnd there’s nothing wrong with any of this, except, perhaps, the overall message. Which seems to be that, if things were different, in terms of our looks, our possessions, or our experiences, we’d be happier. That there’s a better place to be, a better way to be, than where we are right now. And that surely breeds dissatisfaction. It’s all too easy to get caught up in disgruntled thoughts, and end up not noticing what we’ve actually got.

When we practice Mindfulness, we explore being with whatever is, without immediately trying to change anything. Sitting with our sensory experiences alone, and allowing them to be exactly as they are, while letting go of thoughts and desires for things to be different. We begin to realize that often it’s not so much what is actually happening that is the problem, but rather the thoughts about it. Realizing that the mutterings of “I don’t want it to be like this”, “It’s not fair”, and “I deserve more” breed discontent.

Letting go is not the same as giving in. It’s not a state of hopeless resignation. But it gives us the space to fully appreciate what we already have. It can help us to discover what really does need changing, and teaches us to develop a different relationship with what we have no control over.

The art of contentment and well-being is being good at noticing what you have, and wanting what you’ve already got. In the words of Guillaume Apollinaire: “Now and then it’s good to pause in our pursuit of happiness and just be happy”.

Miranda is offering more taster sessions and courses in the new year. See our ‘What’s On’ page for further details.

 

‘Re-charging’ the Christmas ritual….

images (3)As the days of December rush past, leaving us little time to pack in all the annual rituals – present buying, writing and sending cards, attending the work Christmas ‘do’- as well as trying to keep the non-Christmas side of our lives under control, it is all too easy to succumb to a bug, or feel oneself become overwhelmed with the stress and anxiety of it all. Here at The Terrace we like to gather together some tips to help survive the second half of December and on into the new year.

For many of us the rituals are all part of the season and fill us with a sense of nostalgia. For others, the rituals seem stale, lowering and unnecessary, washed away in a sea of consumer madness, bright lights and bad tempers. Money is tight, the shops are filled with things we can’t afford and don’t need. It can be difficult to cope.

If you fall into the latter category – or if Christmas holds darker memories and is a time when you battle depression-  rather than avoiding it altogether, you might want to create your own ritual, one that is personal and connects you to who you are rather than joining the ‘Christmas Mad Rush’. So why not consider the following:

  • Pay particular attention to what is important to you; seeing special friend(s) or spending time with one or two members of your family rather than all of them.
  • Prepare a meal you enjoy, rather than feeling obliged to have turkey with all the trimmings, or create your own spiritual practise – meditation and or quiet time.
  • Take time to read a book, or watch a film that interests you.
  • Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into an arrangement which you know is not going to work for you. If you cannot say ‘No’ outright, say you would like some time to think about it and let the other party know a time when you will get back to them.
  • Never feel guilty about saying you need to spend time alone if that is what you really want.
  • Try to build an understanding of what is important and getting it right for you. When a ritual has become dead for one person it normally has for others too – naming it can be a relief and stimulate new ideas. You might be concerned about upsetting other people’s routine – but they may just be waiting for someone to take that step for them!

In getting the festive season right for you, it often gets it right for others too.

More mindfulness practice: On eating that Christmas raisin……

a-mindful-christmasWe are in December now, and here at The Terrace we are keen to promote ways to ensure our well-being is protected in what is a busy, festive month. We have written many times on mindfulness, and have started a new series of posts on the subject. Our expert practitioner Miranda Bevis offers regular and popular taster sessions and courses here, to those interested in finding out more. Here, Miranda discusses an exercise that some of you may already have heard of, and perhaps even dismissed. After all – how useful can eating one raisin be? Read on and find out. Perhaps, as you eat your rich Christmas cake or pudding this year you can give it a try…..

“The first exercise we do in the Mindfulness course is to eat a raisin. It seems a bit crazy. Never mind. Just do it. Notice. What does it look like? How does it smell? What happens when you put it in your mouth? As best you can, try not put the experience into words, but just allow yourself the bare experience.

If the mind wanders, which it probably will, gently guide it back to the exploration of this small object. Let go of any thoughts or judgments.

The whole thing takes about 5 minutes. People are always surprised and I regularly hear comments such as  “I didn’t know I could get so absorbed in such a small and insignificant thing”, “I can’t believe how intense it tasted”, “I didn’t think I even liked raisins, but that was really enjoyable”; and there’ is always someone who says, “It’s really strange, but I feel so much more relaxed”.

This exercise is far from crazy, and should not be dismissed. It demonstrates a number of things, including how, a lot of the time, we don’t really notice what we are doing, but are functioning automatically. Now, that’s not always a bad thing to do. For example when we react to real danger, or the mechanics of driving. In this complicated world, there are many times when we have to multi-task.

But if we function without awareness, we miss out on much of our experience. How many meals do we not even taste because we are in such a hurry?

And sometimes it’s downright unhelpful, and can actually make things worse. Reaching for the biscuits or the bottle when we get stressed, or kicking the cat because we are feeling irritable – perhaps if we were more aware of our actions, we might act in ways that were kinder to ourselves, and to others.

raisinFinally, the person who noticed she became more relaxed whilst eating the raisin had touched on something of great importance. I never used the “relax” word, never say ‘chill out’. I just said, really, really notice what you are doing. So what we discover is that, just by becoming fully absorbed in a very mundane activity, the body relaxes.

Why not give it a try? For a few mouthfuls every day, switch off the radio, don’t read or talk. And just eat. And notice…”

Miranda Bevis is offering mindfulness taster sessions and a new 8-week course in January 2015. See our ‘What’s On’ page for more details.

Grump or Grinch? How to let in the Christmas Spirit without Marley’s Ghost

draft_lens2250991module12234196photo_1224646919christmas_spirit_apothecaryToday we have another Christmas thought from Jane Gotto here at the Terrace.

Firstly, we are not directing this at those who find Christmas a difficult time of year for reasons of  isolation, or depression and anxiety for example. It can be a hard, and sometimes life-threatening time of year. If this sounds like you, then please do seek help now.  There are wonderful charities out there who offer 24 hour support (such as Mind and The Samaritans for example).

But now we are speaking to those who might be, simply a ‘Christmas Grump’?

That’s ok, and you are entitled to feel that way. It can be overwhelming,  but you might want to think about what made you a ‘Christmas Grump’.    Usually there is a reason – either recent or back in your history- of being ‘made’ to feel the Christmas Spirit, or feeling you have to continue in a particular ritual without enjoying it. You may feel under an obligation to attend a regular event which evokes difficult memories.   These are all Christmas Spirit killers and understandably so.

But it is possible to lift that grumpy mood. You might want to create your own ritual – one that is personal – and connects you to who you are rather than joining the ‘Christmas Mad Rush’. This might mean paying particular attention to what is important to you; seeing special friend(s) or spending time with one or two members of your family rather than all of them.  Prepare a meal you enjoy, rather than feeling obliged to have turkey with all the trimmings, or create your own spiritual practise – meditation and or quiet time.  Take time to read a book, or watch a film that interests you. Certainly you should never feel guilty about saying you need to spend time alone if that is what you really want.

This is a time for coming together with others, cementing or building relationships but it is also about coming back to yourself, understanding what is important and getting it right for you.  In getting it right for you, it often gets it right for others too.

Anyone got other suggestions?

 

Homeopathic tips for dealing with miserable winter colds & flu…

Homeopathic-pills-001We recently held an evening talk here at The Terrace that was so well received we decided to share the speaker’s notes with you. Our subject was ‘Boosting your immune system for winter’ and we have already posted some aromatherapy hints here. Today we are sharing the thoughts of one of our skilled homeopathy practitioners, Ruth Hermolle. Ruth qualified as a Licentiate of the College of Practical Homeopathy (LCPH) and is a Registered Homeopath (RHom) She is also a member of the Alliance of Registered Homeopaths (MARH), a professional body, which provides the Code of Ethics and Practice to which she works.

Homeopathic treatment works to bring a healthy balance to your body and mind. It uses carefully selected remedies to stimulate the natural self-healing resources we all have. The remedies are made from a vast range of substances and the process of preparation renders them free of toxic effects. They are safe for adults and children alike. The homeopath is treating the person, not just their condition and can treat a whole range of conditions, both acute and chronic.

A prompt homeopathic response to the first sign of cold/flu/sore throat can often stop infection taking hold. It is useful to notice the pattern of your acute ailments and learn the remedies that usually help.

Here are some that have been particularly effective, alongside the symptoms you may be experiencing. For some of us, a cold or flu strikes suddenly – nose dripping, headache and lethargy for example. For other people, there is a feeling that one is unwell, but the cold itself takes a few days to ‘come out’. Again, it may be that you find yourself feverish or you have a sore throat or ear pain. This list deals with as many of those distressing (and frankly annoying) symptoms as possible:

ACONITE:  For the sudden onset of cold or flu. There is a severity or intensity of symptoms. Often in dry, cold, windy weather. You may have a thirst for cold water and feel fearful. Vigorous, quick recovery.

GELSEMIUM: Slow onset of flu or colds over days in mild damp weather. Weakness, congested headache into neck. Low fever, cold chills. Possibly dizzy, trembling. Cold extremities and hot head.

BELLADONNA: High temperature, throbbing headache, face hot, red, dry. Sudden onset, heat, redness, lack of sweat. Wants fizzy drinks. If you have any of the symptoms of meningitis, please go to A&E straight away.

FERRUM PHOS: First stage of inflammation (eg ear, throat). For when you feel weak after exertion.

Atropa bella-donna (Solanaceae); Tollkirsche‘Anti Cold and Flu’ powders are available from Ainsworths, and you can also look at the other homeopathic pharmacies like Helios and Nelsons. Many people take these about once per month during the winter, with an extra dose if exposed to infection.

Homeopathic First Aid kits can also be bought from the pharmacies, so remedies are to hand for most common acute ailments.

The ‘common’ cold feels far from easy to deal with, especially when you have a job to do, children to look after (perhaps with the bug themselves) or Christmas to organise (and hopefully enjoy). Homeopathic remedies support many through the winter months and used with care can avoid the necessity for expensive, and often chemically strong, over-the counter remedies. If you would like to know more, or work with Ruth to find a tailor-made homeopathic solution you can contact her via The Terrace on 01823 338968 or post@the-terrace.co.uk.