As we write our first column for “On The Couch”, the clocks have just gone back, autumn is well and truly on its way out, and we begin to batten down the hatches On the Couch with Helen And Monicain all senses in anticipation of the winter months ahead.

Indeed, for many of us, we are coming to the end of a hard year where we have been asked to manage a lot of changes. Apart from the recent rescue of the Chilean miners (and how incredible was that), there may not have felt a lot to be enthusiastic or optimistic about over the last few months, and yet low and behold we are now entering the Christmas season where we are expected to feel just that whether we want to or not!

As we write this column, we’ve become aware that from now until Christmas the pressure for many of us inevitably starts to build up. We may be starting to turn our minds to the task of trying to conjure up the ‘perfect Christmas’, whether that is by providing the best food, the best presents, or the best entertainment and the lists may start to seem endless!

We may also be putting pressure on ourselves, to lose weight to look our best, be our most sparking and a festive a joy to be with, so no wonder by the time the big day comes we may feel very tired, even exhausted – and somewhere someone said this was supposed to be a holiday.

It is a particularly sensitive time therefore not just financially but emotionally, and in some cases Christmas can feel quite isolating, or in some instances quite dispiriting, and so it is no great surprise that many of us may start to exhibit the signs of stress and anxiety.

These signs can manifest themselves as constantly worrying, finding it hard to concentrate, starting to image the worst or a feeling of constant tension and dread;, a little bit like having butterflies in your stomach, but everyday they are constantly fluttering. These symptoms of stress and anxiety are simply our body’s way of telling us to slow down, they act as sort of a ‘fail safe button’ that starts to alert us to our ability to manage the demands we may be putting on ourselves and these often are self imposed demands

One of the most important things to recognise is that we do not have to be a hostage to stress or anxiety, but it is vital in the run up to the Festive season to take some time out for yourself.

So, by stopping, taking stock and recognising what’s going on and importantly taking some time out for you that is relaxing and therapeutic, can help to bring a greater sense of realism into the whole proceedings and the pressure you may be feeling.

So far from this being a column that cries ‘Barr humbug’, maybe it’s time to think of ways to make your festive Season more a “Ho Ho Ho”, rather than a No, NO NO!

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