For many young people, the Christmas holidays can be a very difficult time of year. Rather than feeling joy and happiness, some may be struggling with isolation, sadness and thoughts of suicide. Here are our top tips for looking after yourself over the Christmas period.
Calls to our helpline, PAPYRUS HOPELineUK, usually increase around this time of year. Here at HOPELineUK, we recognise that Christmas can be a profoundly sad and difficult time of year for many young people. Some may not know whether they wish to live or die, which means they could be struggling with thoughts of suicide.
If you are finding that isolation is leading to thoughts or feelings of suicide, or you have concerns that a young person close to you is having thoughts of suicide, contact PAPYRUS HOPELineUK by ‘phone, text or email and talk to our suicide prevention advisors in confidence. Our advisors can provide short-term advice and support around staying safe from suicide, help you to work on a plan to keep safe for now, and look at ways to manage and cope with suicidal thoughts.
Here are some of our top tips for remaining hopeful and safe during the festive season:
- It’s OK to cry. Some of us are sustained by our tears – allowing them to fall can make a difference, and there is a calmness that falls after tears that can help us to sleep. After tears and sleep, some of us feel better able to talk and share our sadness with someone else; whether it’s a friend, a relative, or a supportive professional.
- Find new ways to reconnect with lost loved ones. Some of us have experienced loss, and this can make us feel alone – especially during times of celebration and festivity. Finding new ways to stay in touch with lost loved ones can help – whether it’s holding onto a photograph, sharing a memory, or carrying on with legacies and traditions they started. Doing this can help us feel more connected with them.
- Recall good memories. Recalling good memories can protect us from sadness and suicidal thoughts. If we’re feeling alone at Christmas, thinking about happy times can bring us comfort, and can give us hope for a better, more hopeful future. Thinking about better times can remind us that the way we feel right now may not be permanent – the future may look different.
- Remember you are not alone. During times of sadness and suicidal thoughts, you might start to think that there is ‘nobody else like me’. Realising that you are not alone in feeling this way can help. When we talk with others, we begin to realise that these thoughts are not uncommon. Talking with others who are going through similar things can help us feel some comfort and feel more connected. Try talking with other students, friends, or go along to support groups or connect with forums online.
- Remind yourself there is no such thing as a “normal” family or a “perfect” situation. Seeing Christmas adverts portraying happy families can be hard at this time of year. Some of us aren’t born into families that look after us, or help us along the way. Some family members may have caused us significant harm, and you may still be living with the effects of this. Students might not be able to get home during the Christmas holidays and are spending them at college or university. Remember that it’s OK to spend time with a preferred or specially chosen family or group of people – this could be made up of friends, neighbours, a host family, or fellow students. Being around people who may not be a ‘traditional’ family can remind us that here is no such thing as a ‘normal’ family or ‘perfect’ situation.
- Find solace in music that makes you feel good. Some of us find solace in music and lyrics. Listening to a certain lyric or song can give us strength and help us to keep going. It may help remind us that when difficulties arise, an inner strength can be found to overcome the most lonesome situations. Sometimes hearing music can recall good memories of holidays in the past and can help us reconnect with memories of supportive people.
- Take some time out. During the Christmas period, sometimes giving ourselves permission to let go of stress can make a big difference. Remind yourself that stressful things can be “picked back up again” after Christmas. It’s OK to take a break.
- Opt out of the pressure of Christmas. Some of us don’t enjoy Christmas time for many reasons – whether that’s because of a tendency to feel more stress, or the pressure on us to feel happy and spend time with certain people. Spend the day doing things you really enjoy with the people who make you feel good. Some ideas include: watching films you enjoy, spending time with pets, preparing and eating food you enjoy, playing sports, helping out in the community, or simply enjoying some ‘you’ time.
Here at PAPYRUS HOPELineUK, we’d like to remind you that even through the darkest of days around Christmas time, we are here for you, and can help keep you safe from suicide. If you’re feeling alone and thinking about suicide, please contact us.
Opening hours over Christmas are: 2pm-5pm on the 25th and 26th December, and 1st January 2018. Otherwise HOPELineUK is open 10am-10pm weekdays and 2pm-10pm weekends.
Call: 0800 068 41 41