Distraction & Productivity

Distraction & Productivity

There is a connection between distraction and productivity. In this article we will explore how distractions impact the mind’s stability and productivity. Distractions have become an unavoidable part of modern life. From the constant buzz of notifications on our smartphones to the never-ending stream of information bombarding us from all directions, it seems that our minds are constantly under attack. But have you ever stopped to consider how these distractions are impacting your mind’s stability and productivity?

Research has shown that distractions can have a profound effect on our ability to focus and concentrate. When we are constantly interrupted by external stimuli, our minds are unable to fully engage in the task at hand. This leads to decreased productivity and a higher likelihood of making mistakes.

Moreover, distractions can also increase stress levels. When we are constantly bombarded with information and demands for our attention, our minds become overwhelmed and our stress response is triggered. This can lead to feelings of anxiety, irritability, and a general sense of being overwhelmed.

The relationship between distractions and stress

Distractions and stress are closely intertwined. As distractions increase, so does our stress levels. This is because our minds are constantly being pulled in different directions, trying to process and respond to the various stimuli vying for our attention.

When our attention is divided, our stress response is activated. This is the body’s natural reaction to perceived threats or challenges. The release of stress hormones, such as cortisol, prepares our bodies for fight or flight. While this response can be helpful in certain situations, such as when we are facing immediate danger, it becomes detrimental when it is constantly activated due to distractions.

The chronic activation of the stress response can have serious consequences for our mental and physical health. It can lead to a weakened immune system, increased risk of heart disease, and even mental health disorders such as anxiety and depression.

Exploring the concept of the divine within

In our fast-paced and technology-driven world, it is easy to become disconnected from ourselves and the world around us. We are constantly seeking external validation and answers to our problems. But what if the key to stability and productivity lies within us?

The concept of the divine within refers to the belief that each individual possesses an inherent wisdom and guidance system. It is the idea that we have the power to connect with our inner selves and tap into a source of infinite wisdom and clarity.

When we look within for answers, we are able to tune out the distractions of the external world and focus on what truly matters. We become more in tune with our own needs and desires, and develop a greater sense of purpose and direction.

The importance of looking inward for answers

Looking inward for answers is not only important for our personal growth and development, but also for our mental stability and productivity. When we are constantly seeking external validation and answers, our minds become scattered and our attention is divided. This leads to decreased focus and an inability to make clear decisions.

By looking inward, we are able to cultivate a sense of inner stability and clarity. We become more attuned to our own needs and values, and are able to align our actions with our true selves. This leads to increased focus, improved decision-making, and ultimately, greater productivity.

The effects of outward looking instead of looking within

On the other hand, when we rely solely on external sources for guidance and validation, we become disconnected from ourselves. We are constantly seeking answers from others, rather than trusting our own intuition and wisdom.

This outward looking mentality can have detrimental effects on our mental stability and productivity. We become dependent on others for validation and approval, and are constantly comparing ourselves to others. This leads to feelings of inadequacy, self-doubt, and a lack of confidence in our own abilities.

Moreover, when we are constantly seeking answers from external sources, we are more susceptible to distractions. We become easily swayed by the opinions and expectations of others, and are unable to fully engage in the present moment. This hinders our ability to focus and be productive.

Strategies to minimize distractions and improve productivity

Now that we understand the impact of distractions on our minds, it is important to explore strategies to minimize these distractions and improve our productivity. Here are some effective techniques to help you regain focus and clarity:

  1. Create a distraction-free environment: Designate a specific space for work or study, free from distractions such as phones, television, or noisy environments. This will help you create a conducive environment for focus and concentration.
  2. Establish a routine: Set a regular schedule for work or study, and stick to it. Having a predictable routine helps train your mind to focus during specific times and minimizes the chances of being distracted.
  3. Practice single-tasking: Instead of trying to juggle multiple tasks at once, focus on one task at a time. This allows your mind to fully engage with the task at hand and increases productivity.
  4. Use productivity tools: Explore productivity apps and tools that can help you stay organized, manage your time effectively, and block distracting websites or notifications.
  5. Take regular breaks: Breaks are essential for maintaining focus and preventing burnout. Incorporate short breaks into your work or study routine to recharge your mind and improve productivity.

Mindfulness techniques to cultivate inner stability

Mindfulness is a powerful tool that can help cultivate inner stability and enhance focus and clarity. By practicing mindfulness, we train our minds to be fully present in the moment and develop a non-judgmental awareness of our thoughts and emotions.

Here are some mindfulness techniques that can help you cultivate inner stability:

  1. Breathing exercises: Take a few moments throughout the day to focus on your breath. Notice the sensation of the breath entering and leaving your body, and allow yourself to fully experience each breath.
  2. Body scan meditation: Sit or lie down in a comfortable position and bring your attention to different parts of your body, starting from your toes and moving up to the top of your head. Notice any sensations or tension in each part of your body, and allow yourself to relax and release any tension.
  3. Mindful walking: Take a walk in nature and pay attention to the sensation of your feet touching the ground, the sounds around you, and the sights and smells of your surroundings. Allow yourself to fully immerse in the present moment and let go of any distractions or worries.
  4. Mindful eating: Slow down and savor each bite of your meals. Notice the flavors, textures, and smells of the food, and bring your full attention to the act of eating. This helps you to fully engage with the experience of eating and increases your enjoyment of the meal.

Connecting with the inner self to enhance focus and clarity

In order to enhance focus and clarity, it is essential to connect with your inner self. This involves taking the time to reflect on your values, goals, and desires, and aligning your actions with your true self.

Here are some practices that can help you connect with your inner self:

  1. Journaling: Take some time each day to write down your thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This allows you to gain insight into your inner world and helps you make sense of your emotions and experiences.
  2. Meditation: Set aside a few minutes each day to sit in silence and observe your thoughts and emotions. Allow them to come and go without judgment, and simply be present with whatever arises.
  3. Self-reflection: Take regular breaks to reflect on your goals and values, and how your actions align with them. Ask yourself what truly matters to you and what steps you can take to live in alignment with your true self.
  4. Gratitude practice: Cultivate a practice of gratitude by taking a few moments each day to reflect on the things you are grateful for. This helps shift your focus from what is lacking to what is abundant in your life, and cultivates a sense of contentment and inner peace.

Seeking balance in a world full of distractions

In a world full of distractions, seeking balance becomes crucial for maintaining a stable mind. Balance involves finding the middle ground between the demands of the external world and the needs of our inner selves.

Here are some ways to seek balance:

  1. Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries around your time and energy. Learn to say no to activities or commitments that do not align with your priorities and values.
  2. Practice self-care: Take care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being. Engage in activities that nourish your mind, body, and soul, such as exercise, meditation, spending time in nature, or pursuing hobbies.
  3. Prioritize and delegate: Identify your top priorities and focus your time and energy on them. Learn to delegate tasks that can be done by others, and let go of the need to control every aspect of your life.
  4. Practice self-compassion: Be kind and gentle with yourself. Accept that you are human and that it is okay to make mistakes or take breaks. Treat yourself with the same compassion and understanding that you would offer to a loved one.

Conclusion: Cultivating a stable mind in the face of distractions

In conclusion, distractions have a significant impact on the stability and productivity of our minds. They increase stress levels, hinder focus, and prevent us from tapping into our inner wisdom and guidance.

However, by understanding the relationship between distractions and our mental well-being, and by implementing strategies to minimize distractions and cultivate inner stability, we can enhance our focus, clarity, and productivity.

Remember, the key lies within you. By looking inward for answers, connecting with your inner self, and seeking balance in a world full of distractions, you can cultivate a stable mind and thrive in all areas of your life.

Are distractions taking a toll on your mind’s stability and productivity? Take a step back, look within, and discover the power of cultivating inner stability. Start your journey towards a more focused and productive life today.

Elise Phillipson & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Elise and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

The Power of Concentration – Overcoming Distractions and Finding Mental Clarity

The Power of Concentration – Overcoming Distractions and Finding Mental Clarity

In a world that is constantly evolving and bombarded with an overwhelming amount of information, it’s becoming increasingly challenging to maintain focus and clarity of mind. The rapid pace of life, the insatiable desire for novelty, and the proliferation of communication channels have all contributed to a scattering of attention, leading to chronic distractedness. As a result, humanity’s capacity to make wise decisions and tackle the difficulties that lie ahead is at risk. In this article, we will explore the importance of concentration, the impact of distractions, and strategies for cultivating mental clarity in the face of constant interruptions.

The Scattering of Attention: A Modern Epidemic

The hunger for novelty and the constant need for the next big thing have created a sense of desperation in our society. Celebrities rise and fall in the blink of an eye, and technological advancements are quickly overshadowed by speculation about the next version. This craving for the new, while understandable, can have dire consequences. It contributes to a scattering of attention, diverting our focus away from the important issues that lie at the heart of human life. Moreover, the proliferation of communication channels, such as email, instant messaging, and SMS, has only intensified this problem, providing endless opportunities for distraction and mindless chatter.

The Dangers of Distractedness

While the scattering of attention may seem harmless on the surface, it conceals a subtle danger. It undermines our capacity to concentrate and make wise decisions. Research has shown that interruptions, even seemingly innocuous ones, severely impact our performance in complex mental tasks. Contrary to popular belief, multi-tasking is not an efficient approach. Trying to juggle multiple related tasks simultaneously or rapidly switching between them leads to increased errors and prolonged completion times. Even the younger generation, who have grown up with technology, struggle to effectively multi-task. Their skills at accessing information have improved, but their tolerance for ambiguity and complexity has decreased.

The Impact of Technology on the Mind

Regular use of the internet and screen-based technologies has a profound effect on our brains. Studies suggest that the internet “re-wires” our brains, altering our cognitive abilities. While it enhances visual-spatial skills, it weakens our capacity for deep processing, critical thinking, and reflection. Patricia Greenfield, a prominent developmental psychologist, found that different media develop cognitive skills at the expense of others. Our increasing reliance on the internet and screens has led to the widespread development of visual-spatial skills, but at the cost of mindful knowledge acquisition, inductive analysis, and imagination.

Finding Balance in a World of Distractions

To prevent our world from becoming a fairground carousel, flinging attention out to the periphery, we must learn to center our attention on the perennial issues of deep meaning that lie at the core of civilization. In the past, established orthodoxies in politics, religion, and culture provided a framework for this process. But as these orthodoxies erode, we are faced with the daunting task of creating new ways to express essential concepts such as Goodness, Truth, Justice, and Beauty. To achieve this, we must prioritize and dedicate time to meditation in all its forms.

The Power of Meditation: Emptying the Mind and Connecting with Divine Ideas

Contrary to popular belief, meditation is not solely about stilling the mind or emptying it of thoughts. It is the first step, but it is not the sole purpose. The mind must actively engage in contacting Divine Ideas and creating thought forms through which these ideas can be expressed. This process is how great works of genius emerge in various fields, including science, education, politics, the arts, and religion. Nurturing this process and protecting our minds from distractions is crucial for our world’s well-being.

The Essence of Concentration: Bringing Together and Focusing the Mind

Concentration is the act of bringing together or drawing our thoughts and ideas to a common center or focal point. It involves gathering our wandering thoughts and holding the mind firmly and steadily on the object of our attention. It requires eliminating all distractions and extraneous thoughts. Developing the power of concentration is essential in preparing for true meditation work and gaining control over our minds.

Understanding the Components of Thought

To fully grasp the power of concentration, it is crucial to understand the different components of thought. We are not just our thoughts; we are the thinkers behind them. Distinguishing between the true Self, or the Soul, and the apparatus we use to think, the mind, is essential. Additionally, we must acknowledge the process of thought itself, as well as the brain’s role in conveying impressions and information.

Training the Mind: Making it a Servant, Not a Master

The objective of our endeavours is to train the mind to become our servants rather than our master. By cultivating the power of concentration, we can regulate and control our minds, using them as tools for our thoughts. This practice requires a constantly concentrated attitude towards life. Paying attention becomes the secret to success. Whether it’s in conversations, reading, writing, or any other activity, we must focus our thoughts and gradually develop the capacity to concentrate.

The Art of True Meditation: Intense Application of the Mind and Balance of Thought

True meditation is not a passive activity; it requires intense application of the mind. It demands utmost control over our thoughts and an attitude of balance between negativity and positivity. By engaging in true meditation, we can unlock the door that leads from darkness to light, from death to immortality, and from the unreal to the Real.

Conclusion: Embracing Concentration for Mental Clarity

In a world filled with distractions and constant interruptions, the power of concentration is more important than ever. It is the key to unlocking mental clarity and finding meaning in our lives. By understanding the impact of distractions, harnessing the power of meditation, and cultivating the art of concentration, we can overcome the challenges of the modern world and stay focused on what truly matters. Let us embrace the power of concentration and embark on a journey towards a more centered and fulfilling existence.

Elise Phillipson & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Elise and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Matthew Perry’s Journey: Shining a Spotlight on Mental Health and Addiction

Matthew Perry’s Journey: Shining a Spotlight on Mental Health and Addiction

The recent accidental death of actor Matthew Perry has left many mourning the loss of a talented individual while also reminding us of the profound impact mental health and addiction can have on one’s life. As we remember Perry’s iconic portrayal of Chandler Bing on the hit TV series Friends, it is crucial to acknowledge his struggle and use it to open up conversations about mental health. 

Matthew Perry’s captivating performances on stage and screen were juxtaposed with a personal battle behind the curtain. He openly shared his struggles with mental health, particularly relating to anxiety and depression, which had a profound impact on his life. Perry was open about his long-standing addiction to alcohol and prescription medication, a battle he fought for years. His journey serves as a stark reminder that mental health issues, regardless of a person’s fame or success, can affect anyone.

Perry’s untimely death once again highlights the importance of raising awareness about mental health and addiction. It is not only a celebrity matter but a universal concern affecting individuals from all walks of life. By discussing Perry’s story, we hope to break down mental health stigma and encourage open conversations about seeking help.

The first step towards addressing mental health issues is recognising recognising the problem and seeking professional support. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, it is essential to reach out to a psychotherapy practice or a mental health professional. Psychotherapy provides a safe space for individuals to express their emotions, explore the root causes of their struggles, and develop coping strategies for a healthier and happier life.

While professional help is crucial, surrounding oneself with a supportive network of family and friends can be equally beneficial. Loved ones are significant in providing comfort, understanding, and encouragement during challenging times. Building a support network fosters an environment where individuals feel safe and understood, enabling them to share their feelings and experiences without fear of judgment.

In the pursuit of better mental health, it is vital to prioritise self-care and stress management. Engaging in activities that bring joy, practising mindfulness, maintaining a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise are all crucial aspects of self-care. Additionally, stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and journaling can help alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of calmness.

Psychotherapy is a powerful tool that guides individuals through their mental health journey. Through various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), individuals can develop healthy coping mechanisms, gain a deeper understanding of themselves, and gradually overcome their struggles. Removing the stigma surrounding therapy and embracing it as a valuable resource for personal growth is essential.

Matthew Perry’s battle with mental health and addiction serves as a reminder that we must continue to break down the barriers of silence and shame that often surround these issues. Sharing our experiences and discussing our struggles openly creates a supportive environment where others can find solace and realise they are not alone. By prioritising mental health, we can collectively work towards a society that understands, supports, and embraces those fighting their battles.

Matthew Perry’s legacy extends far beyond his on-screen performances. His openness about his mental health struggles brought attention to the importance of addressing mental health issues and seeking support. As we mourn his loss, let us honour his memory by continuing to advocate for mental health, spreading awareness, and offering compassion to those who battle their demons. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a courageous step towards healing and reclaiming one’s life.

Elise Phillipson & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Elise and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Self-stigma and Counselling

Self-stigma and Counselling

Why people who need help with their mental health won’t go and get it?

The effects of the problem

Self-stigma is, if not the biggest, at least a major obstacle that  prevents people from seeking psychotherapy or counselling when they face mental health issues. Many feel that they should be stronger, tougher, harder when what they really need is the courage to admit that they need help, and reach out for it. Since mental illness is often stigmatised in society as well, this increases self-stigma, putting up a barrier to asking for help, leading to feelings of isolation and fear in addition to the original mental health issue.

So people plod on, with often worsening long-term mental health issues and possibly, suicidal thoughts. The World Health Organisation states that 264 million people around the world suffer from depression, with rates of anxiety and other mental health conditions on the rise as well.

Self-stigma is a self-built, high wall that stops people getting the mental health support they need and are ultimately seeking.

Self-stigma is the elephant in the room. To overcome it, we must first understand it: self-stigma arises from a culture and society’s sometimes unspoken biases and prejudices against mental issues. This we then internalise. This reinforces a negative view of mental health issues. If we find that we ourselves have a mental health issue, we apply this negative evaluation to ourselves, as if they were true.

Overcoming social stigma can be difficult. Sometimes it is due to the severity of the situation, an implosion, if you will, at other times it is recognising ones own thoughts and beliefs that are holding us back from seeking help, then challenging them with evidence and reasoning, and sometimes just being brave and taking a dive into the unknown. 

Where self-stigma exists, seeking help from mental health professionals can be challenging. Still, it is important to know that mental health professionals provide a safe, confidential, empathetic and non-judgemental environment for you to discuss your issues. 

Where does the self-stigma come from?

Society recruits us into believing that we must be happy all the time. If we do not have the skills to do this then we are to blame: we are somehow broken. Over time this leads to us internalising this as being to blame. This makes it more difficult to ask for help. Far better if we were to treat a mental health issue, the same as, a broken leg for example, where we have no self-stigma, and seek professional help, which enables and shortens the time needed for healing.

How Psychotherapy Works.

As a psychotherapist, I see many patients and clients with symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions who are benefiting from counselling, but who were reluctant to seek it. They were often overwhelmed, feeling hopeless, like no one could understand or help them. For years, they worried about what others would think and feared the judgement of others and professionals. Sometimes, they would see everyone but a mental health professional before coming to see me, treating the symptoms, looking for a temporary ‘fix’ to problems that were deep and dark and not shifting. There seems to be less stigma of going to an astrologer, Reiki, or other alternative healers than seeing a psychotherapist like me. The biggest reason for this is self-stigma.

One of the biggest benefits of counselling is that it provides individuals with an opportunity to speak about their thoughts, feelings and emotions freely, without being judged, criticised, ostracised or punished. Contrary to popular belief, counselling is not just for people with severe mental illnesses; it is for anyone who wants or needs to talk and find the best outcome for the challenges they are facing.

Psychotherapists know that there is no problem too big or small, boring or exciting, embarrassing, unexpected, harmful or harmless that it can be brought up in counselling. Counselling and psychotherapy have the ability to improve individual self-confidence, self-esteem, and self-efficacy, helping clients build positive and meaningful relationships with themselves and others.

By moving something, a thought, feeling, or experience out of the dark, shedding light on it, approaching it from different angles, its power over a person can be reduced, minimised, and ultimately, in most cases, removed. Alternatively by learning coping mechanisms and communication skills, counselling can also help individuals regulate their emotions, decreasing levels of anxiety and depression.

Counselling can also help individuals form a better understanding of themselves, their thoughts, feelings, and behaviours, enabling them to identify and create happy and healthy patterns, enabling them to move towards making positive changes that improve their lives and that of those around them.

Self-stigma is a significant obstacle that prevents individuals from seeking help for mental health issues. However, if you are curious enough to take a first tentative step towards it, most mental health professionals and all the psychotherapists at AMindset, are open and willing to talk about how it works, answering your questions and concerns. If you do take the leap, it can lead to significant benefits, including improved self-esteem, healthy relationships and an all-round better life.

Elise Phillipson

MoC

Elise Phillipson is a psychotherapist at AMindset (AM) in Central, HK and Central Health Medical Practice in Discovery Bay.​ You can find out more about Elise here.

Please complete the AMindset intake form if you want to start your therapy with Elise or another AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

Other Articles from Elise:

Christmas Alone 

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If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Christmas Alone

Christmas Alone

Don’t be stoic about being alone this Christmas, or any time when you are usually with family.

No matter what kind of person you are: a people person, or someone who likes to spend time alone, there is nothing as lonely as a traditional family day spent on your own.

It can be particularly difficult this time of year when growing up; it would be the most exciting thing to look forward to.

Be aware of your feelings:

Acknowledge disappointment if you were planning on spending Christmas with family or friends and nothing has come of it. It’s okay to feel sad.

Acknowledge that it may be possible to meet up with friends and family on another day, even if it may be a few months away, and feel the love and joy then: give yourself something to look forward to.

Accept how you are feeling. Move your pride and prejudice of being ‘strong’ and ‘stoic’. Being alone at Christmas can be awful, especially if your denial of your feelings comes back to bite you on the day itself. It can lead to resentment of self and others and a drop in well-being and self-esteem.

Change your expectations of this Christmas, whether you choose to spend it with others or alone.

Expecting perfection leads to disappointment and having low expectations can lead to no action, creating a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Spending Christmas with Others

Be pro-active. Instead of hoping someone will reach out or invite you, reach out to them.

Hope only sometimes leads to a solution, but action always does

Chances are that the other people thought you were busy or were hoping you would call. Reach out and see.

Don’t turn down invitations because of your pride. Accept that people have invited you because they want you there.

If someone asked you to spend Christmas with them and their family, and you answered no because you thought that you would only intrude, they did not really mean it or it makes you feel uncomfortable, call them and ask if the invitation is still open.

But: accept invitations from people you actually like, so you can enjoy your day with them.

Avoid people you do not want to spend time with.

Spend time with those you can spend time with. If you can do something and get there in person, do so. If need be, get out of your comfort zone and suggest something. If you cannot meet up, schedule a call, Zoom, FaceTime, or even just chat over WhatsApp.

If you cannot be with family this year, organise your own:

Host or join an ‘Orphan Christmas’ at home, in the park, on the beach (weather permitting), make it a potluck so everyone can contribute, or go out for a meal.

Create your own temporary Christmas Family. There are not many days left, but ask your single friends, or those whose partner is away if they would like to spend Christmas with you. It does not have to be big, or expensive. These days, it’s about being with people you like and get on with instead of being alone.

Go to a church, temple, or another prayer place, even if you are not religious. These places have had millennia of perfecting these traditional days to work for everyone. Usually, there is a post-service event where you can talk to other people who are not quite ready to go home either.

Volunteer at Christmas There is nothing quite like the good feeling we get from volunteering, especially in comparison to sitting home alone and feeling lonely. When you volunteer, you are actively helping other people feel better which, in turn, lifts your mood and mental state. The conviviality experienced with other volunteers is positive and good for mind and spirit.

Spending Christmas Alone

If you really are better on your own, make sure your day is planned. Have a planned walk or a marathon of uplifting movies that will get you through.

Focus on what you can do:

Is there something you’ve wished you could do if only you had the time? Something you really wanted to do? Give yourself the gift of time and permission to do it at Christmas this year. Plan it out, look forward to it and do it.

Go for a long walk around the city or in the countryside, getting rid of the cobwebs in your mind, invigorating and connecting with the oldest part of your brain that likes to look at and listen to natural surroundings.

Be kind to yourself.

Reward yourself throughout the day by doing things you love: a long bath, spa treatment, a good book or a box set to lose yourself in, cooking, a long walk, or something that makes you feel happy and comforted.

Do something you like that brings you joy.

Decorate your house as if you are not alone at Christmas because you are worth the decorations. Turn your home into a warm, self-loving nest. It can be a little tree with lovely little lights in the corner or the biggest tree with lots of decorations and flashy lights, depending on your personality, style and budget.

Get yourself a nice Christmassy candle. As we have learnt from aromatherapy, scents have a powerful effect on us, taking us back to places we love or hate and helping us feel better and comforted.

If Christmas is something you would rather ignore completely, surround yourself with people who do not celebrate either, and do something different with them. Even lunch or a movie will do.

You don’t have to celebrate Christmas.

Get yourself somewhere else. On the day itself, go out, and change your environment.

If you can afford it, have a change of scene altogether.

Many cultures do not celebrate this holiday, so get to one of those countries where Christmas is not on the calendar (i.e. Thailand) and revel in it being just another day…  Get out of your comfort zone and ask your friend to come with you.

Stay away from social media, as it can lead to negative comparisons, leaving you lonely and depressed. Do a digital detox with things that make you happy.

Lonely with Your Friends and Family Present.

If you have to spend Christmas with family who will not meet your emotional needs, have a call, chat, or video with friends you do connect with, or the Samaritans. They are brilliant listeners and allow you to talk it off.

Choose another day to meet up with those who meet your needs, such as good friends or have a ‘reward yourself’ day to recharge your batteries.

Whether Alone or with Others:

Practice gratitude. Sometimes we get so bogged down with what we don’t have that we neglect or take things we do have for granted. Sit back, look around and appreciate what you have, even if it’s just a little thing. Gratitude increases the positive chemicals in our brains, making us feel better.

Plan ahead. At Christmas, look ahead and plan for next year. What goals will you set? What would you continue doing? What would you stop doing? What will you start doing? Write a plan, timeline and actions to create a positive outlook for your future with goals and ways of getting there.

Sleep! Have a few good nights’ sleep, as sleep deprivation can increase stress and depression.

Alcohol is a depressant. Drinking your sorrows away is a myth – try other drinks. Hot chocolate or aniseed milk are warming, good before bedtime, watching a movie, or reading a good book.

If you’re not coping or are not sure, reach out. Either friends, family, or the Samaritans. They are here to listen, are open all the time and are happy to take your call, even if you feel just a little blue or lonely.

See a counsellor or psychotherapist to talk about it. We are here for you, on your side, supporting and working together with you to figure things out and get you through this tough time.

Elise Phillipson is a psychotherapist who practises at AMindset in Central and at Central Health in Discovery Bay.​

Please contact us if you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you.

by Elise Phillipson

Find out more about Elise here