Ten tips for a great Christmas…with less stress

Experts' festive advice for dealing with the in-laws, the kids - and even the turkey!

Ten tips for a great Christmas…with less stress
20 December 2013

Experts from across Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust have combined to help you have a happier Christmas.

The festive season can be stressful for many people. Family issues, financial worries, and the expectation to have a good time can make it a difficult time for some.

So we’ve asked our staff for the tips to unlock the secrets of a less-stress Christmas:

1 – Get out of the house! While many of us might want to sit on the sofa over Christmas and dive into the nearest chocolate selection box, try and get some fresh air as well. A simple, 15 minute walk reduces the blood pressure and your stress levels…and you’ll be ready to face the in-laws again.
Nora O’Shea, Physical Activities Co-ordinator – Cavell Centre, Peterborough

2 – And breathe...! Children screaming? Family winding each other up? Take a step back from the situation, count to 10 and focus on your breathing. This is a technique called Mindfulness, which helps you remain calm and in control. Our staff and service-users do this every morning so we are better able to tackle the day’s challenges.
Dr Pamela Peters, Consultant at Springbank ward – Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge

3 – Avoid the turkey trot! Don't wash your turkey, or any other meat for that matter. Washing meat does not remove or kill germs, instead the germs spread on water droplets across your kitchen work-surfaces, walls, floor and over you. Cooking kills germs, so all you need to do is cook turkey properly (till the juices run clear) and this should reduce your risk of spending new year on the toilet.
Nicola Sharp, Matron for Infection Prevention and Control

4 - Leave your work in the office! For those lucky enough to have some leave or a few days off, use the Christmas break to relax your state of mind and revitalise your health. Take some time out to reflect and think as well as draw support from those around you. Try tackling all work which can be realistically finished ahead of Christmas before leaving the office, as it is easier to relax when the decks are cleared. We can then tell ourselves we’ve left everything in good shape.
Martin Liebenberg, Registered Counselling Psychologist - Gloucester Centre, Peterborough (right)

5 – Money, it’s a drag! Every January I see patients with anxiety and depression issues brought on the credit card bills arriving after the festive period. When it comes to cash, have a budget and stick to it. That way you’ll have a happy Christmas and an even happier New Year.
Dr Manaan Kar-Ray, Clinical Director - Acute Care

6 – Christmas past and Christmas presents! If you are spending time with an older relative or friend this year, it always good to talk about Christmases they have previously experienced and the good times they had. It’s a great way to stimulate their memories and really get to know them. That’s just one of the techniques we use at the Memory Clinic to aid people with dementia. But our work doesn’t just focus on the past, we also look to the future because the people we come into contact with have so much more they want to achieve.
Lynne Denton, Service Manager, Memory Clinic – Gloucester Centre, Peterborough

7 Chocs away! Many of us enjoy having a bit of chocolate over the festive period. If you have got a sweet tooth try the chocolate that has 70 per cent cocoa. It is probably better for you than milk or white chocolate. As they say, a little bit of what you fancy does you good.
Clare Mundell, Chief Pharmacist

8 - Out with the old and in with the new! If the thought of your usual Christmas routine makes you anxious – try something different. Why not start some new traditions doing things that will make you happy. You could spend Christmas with friends, eat your favourite food instead of a turkey or give something back by finding out about local volunteering opportunities. In fact you can do anything you want.
Geraldine Owen, Director of Psychological Services – Fulbourn, Cambridge

9 – Do something for you! Just because it’s Christmas, don’t ignore the signs of stress. Signs to look out for are: poor sleep patterns, feeling pre-occupied by negative thoughts, losing your appetite, or feeling more irritable than usual. Regardless of the time of year, if this is you, please talk to your GP. It could mean a really positive start to 2014.
Dr Asha Praseedom, Consultant Psychiatrist – Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge

10 - Go ahead, make my day! Take the time to touch base with people you care about. If you can, spend time doing nice things together to build up a store of good memories. If you can’t visit, at least pick up the phone. Letting someone know you are thinking about them can make their day.
Dr Pamela Peters, Consultant at Springbank ward – Fulbourn Hospital, Cambridge



For more information please contact:

Andy Burrows
Communications Manager
E andy.burrows@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 726767

Andrea Grosbois
Communications Manager
E andrea.grosbois@cpft.nhs.uk
T 01223 726760


Cambridgeshire and Peterborough NHS Foundation Trust
Elizabeth House, Fulbourn Hospital
Cambridge, CB21 5EF

T 01223 219400 (open 8:30am to 5pm)
F 01480 398501

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