We have joined forces with First News, the award-winning national newspaper for children and young people, to help young people truly enjoy the festive season.
Laurence Baldwin, a consultant nurse in our Derby City CAMHS (Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service) team, has written a special report for the Christmas issue of the paper offering advice on how best to cope with Christmas and have some festive fun. A young person from Derbyshire, Leanne, has also provided her top tips for when things get tense.
In the media, Christmas is portrayed as a time of happy families, delicious food and expensive presents. But for many young people, the holiday season is a difficult time - last year, nearly 23,000 young people contacted ChildLine in December, including 330 on Christmas Day. Family tensions, financial pressures and loneliness are often exacerbated over the holidays. It's also common to reflect on the year gone by, which can lead young people to focus on the trials and tribulations rather than the triumphs.
In the article, Laurence Baldwin advises young people to prepare coping strategies in advance, covering the most likely challenges they will experience over the festive period. "Try to think ahead about what emotions you might feel," says Laurence. "If there are things that are likely to bother you, try to plan how you might deal with them. You might decide Christmas is not the right time to talk about them. Or you may find there’s someone who can ‘have a quiet word’ on your behalf, like a trusted aunt or uncle."
When it comes to reflecting on the previous 12 months, Laurence says: "Our bodies are trained to remember moments of crisis and fear, so we don’t repeat mistakes. But it’s important when we look back to think about things that have gone well, too. There will always be successes, even if they seem small."
Leanne's top tips in the article include:
Spend time meeting or talking with friends - "sometimes being around your family for a long time can feel too much"
Get out of the house - "getting some air and stretching your legs can give you breathing space"
Be mindful – "enjoy the good moments in the good moments. Take in how they feel and what’s special. I write down good moments on a piece of paper and keep them in a jar, then read them when I feel sad.”
Sleep – “being over-tired can add to negative feelings. Get plenty of sleep so you’re refreshed for the day ahead."
Read the First News report
View the full special report, 'Messy Stressy Christmas', which appears in issue 444, on sale 19 December 2014 - 1 January 2015. Reproduced courtesy of First News.
Our work with First News
This is the fourth feature we have produced in collaboration with First News.
The first feature coincided with 2014 Mental Health Awareness Week and was about anxiety.
The second feature in September this year was about finding your feet at a new school.
The third feature promoted World Mental Health Day in October.