Archive for December 2017

It’s the “time of giving” again this year! When you are looking at organizations to help this holiday season, please keep Mended Hearts in mind, we are a locally ran, non profit Therapeutic Riding and Counseling Center who has been helping families, adults, and children for over 15 years! Our needy families need your support or you can sponsor one of our therapy animals. Thank you and Merry Christmas! 

Holiday Safety

Holiday safety is an issue that burns brightest from late November to mid-January, when families gather, parties are scheduled and travel spikes. Take some basic precautions to ensure your family remains safe and injury-free throughout the season.

Traveling for the Holidays? Be Prepared

Many people choose to travel during the holidays by automobile, with the highest fatality rate of any major form of transportation. In 2015, 355 people died on New Year’s Day, 386 on Thanksgiving Day and 273 on Christmas Day, according to Injury Facts 2017. Alcohol-impaired fatalities represent about one-third of the totals.

  • Use a designated driver to ensure guests make it home safely after a holiday party; alcohol, over-the-counter or illegal drugs all cause impairment
  • Make sure every person in the vehicle is properly buckled up no matter how long or short the distance traveled
  • Put that cell phone away; many distractions can occur while driving, but cell phones are the main culprit
  • Properly maintain the vehicle and keep an emergency kit with you
  • Be prepared for heavy traffic, and possibly heavy snow

Even Angel Hair can Hurt

Decorating is one of the best ways to get in a holiday mood, but emergency rooms see thousands of injuries involving holiday decorating every season.

  • “Angel hair,” made from spun glass, can irritate your eyes and skin; always wear gloves or substitute non-flammable cotton
  • Spraying artificial snow can irritate your lungs if inhaled; follow directions carefully
  • Decorate the tree with your kids in mind; move ornaments that are breakable or have metal hooks toward the top
  • Always use the proper step ladder; don’t stand on chairs or other furniture
  • Lights are among the best parts of holiday decorating; make sure there are no exposed or frayed wires, loose connections or broken sockets, and don’t overload your electrical circuits
  • Plants can spruce up your holiday decorating, but keep those that may be poisonous (including some Poinsettias) out of reach of children or pets; the national Poison Control Center can be reached at (800) 222-1222
  • Make sure paths are clear so no one trips on wrapping paper, decorations, toys, etc.; NSC provides tips for older adults on slip, trip and fall protection

It’s Better to Give … Safely

We’ve all heard it’s important when choosing toys for infants or small children to avoid small parts that might prove to be a choking hazard. Here are some additional gift-related safety tips:

  • Select gifts for older adults that are not heavy or awkward to handle
  • Be aware of dangers associated with coin lithium batteries; of particular concern is the ingestion of button batteries
  • For answers to more of your holiday toy safety questions, check out this Consumer Product Safety Commission blog
  • See which toys have been recalled

Watch Out for Those Fire-starters

Candles and Fireplaces

Thousands of deaths are caused by fires, burns and other fire-related injuries every year, and 12% of home candle fires occur in December, the National Fire Protection Association reports. Increased use of candles and fireplaces, combined with an increase in the amount of combustible, seasonal decorations present in many homes means more risk for fire.

  • Never leave burning candles unattended or sleep in a room with a lit candle
  • Keep candles out of reach of children
  • Make sure candles are on stable surfaces
  • Don’t burn candles near trees, curtains or any other flammable items
  • Don’t burn trees, wreaths or wrapping paper in the fireplace
  • Check and clean the chimney and fireplace area at least once a year

Turkey Fryers

While many subscribe to the theory any fried food is good – even if it’s not necessarily good for you – there is reason to be on alert if you’re thinking of celebrating the holidays by frying a turkey.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission reports there have been 168 turkey-fryer related fires, burns, explosions or carbon monoxide poisoning incidents since 2002. CPSC says 672 people have been injured and $8 million in property damage losses have resulted from these incidents.

NSC discourages the use of turkey fryers at home and urges those who prefer fried turkey to seek out professional establishments or consider a new oil-less turkey fryer.

Don’t Give the Gift of Food Poisoning

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides some holiday food safety tips. Here are a few:

  • Do not rinse raw meat and poultry before cooking
  • Use a food thermometer to make sure meat is cooked to a safe temperature
  • Refrigerate food within two hours
  • Thanksgiving leftovers are safe for four days in the refrigerator
  • Bring sauces, soups and gravies to a rolling boil when reheating
  • When storing turkey, cut the leftovers in small pieces so they will chill quickly
  • Wash your hands frequently when handling food

http://www.nsc.org/learn/safety-knowledge/Pages/news-and-resources-holiday-safety.aspx

Image result for merry christmas and a happy new year

Why People Become Depressed at Christmas

We are told that Christmas, for Christians, should be the happiest time of year, an opportunity to be joyful and grateful with family, friends and colleagues. Yet, according to the National Institute of Health, Christmas is the time of year that many people experience a high incidence of depression.

Hospitals and police forces report high incidences of suicide and attempted suicide. Psychiatrists, psychologists and other mental health professionals report a significant increase in patients complaining about depression. One North American survey reported that 45% of respondents dreaded the festive season.

It is often a time that some of my clients who are facing emotional or relationship challenges in life, find very difficult.

Why? Is the Grinch in full force during the season? Is it because of the dark winter weather that increases the incidence of Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? Certainly those may be some reasons, but it appears to have more to do with unrealistic expectations and excessive self-reflection for many people.

For some people, they get depressed at Christmas and even angry because of the excessive commercialization of Christmas, with the focus on gifts and the emphasis on “perfect” social activities. Other get depressed because Christmas appears to be a trigger to engage in excessive self-reflection and rumination about the inadequacies of life (and a “victim” mentality) in comparison with other people who seem to have more and do more.

Still others become anxious at Christmas because of the pressure (both commercial and self-induced) to spend a lot of money on gifts and incur increasing debt. Other people report that they dread Christmas because of the expectations for social gatherings with family, friends and acquaintances that they’d rather not spend time with. And finally, many people feel very lonely at Christmas, because they have suffered the loss of loved ones or their jobs.

So what should you do, if you’re among those who get depressed at Christmas? Mental health professionals who treat people with this problem suggest the following:

  • First, if the depression is serious, seek out the help of a qualified mental health professional;
  • Set personal boundaries regarding the money spent on gifts and the number of social events;
  • Don’t accept any “perfect” representation of Christmas that the media, institutions or other people try to make you believe. Lower your expectations and any attachment to what it should look like; be present and enjoy each moment as best you can;
  • Become involved in giving in a non-monetary way through charities and worthwhile causes that help less fortunate people;
  • Be grateful for what you have in your life, rather than focusing on what you don’t have;
  • Avoid excessive rumination about your life;
  • Take action and do interesting and fun things;
  • If you are religious, take part in church activities that focus on the bigger meaning of Christmas;
  • Focus your thoughts on all the good things about Christmas–the opportunity to engage in loving kindness, generosity of spirit, and gratitude for others in your life.

The Christmas season has become a difficult time for many people in our society. For those of us who don’t have difficulties at this time of year, it’s an opportunity to reach out to those who become depressed. For those who are depressed, it’s an opportunity to take action to think, feel and act in ways that breaks free from the past.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/wired-success/201111/why-people-become-depressed-christmas

 

It’s the “time of giving” again this year! When you are looking at organizations to help this holiday season, please keep Mended Hearts in mind, we are a locally ran, non profit Therapeutic Riding and Counseling Center who has been helping families, adults, and children for over 15 years! Our needy families need your support or you can sponsor one of our therapy animals. Thank you and Happy Holidays!

 

Christmas and Mental Health

Christmas can be a challenging time for our stress levels and it’s even harder for those of us with mental ill-health.

So many things that are part of our routines and we take for granted become disrupted by the change of pace in our lives.

Leaving all your preparations for Christmas until the last minute can cause unnecessary stress, but planning ahead can save you time and money. Making lists for jobs to do, presents to buy and groceries you’ll need helps to organise your thoughts, prevents you forgetting something (or someone) and makes it easier to stick to a budget.

Shopping online can save you even more money, as well as avoiding the stress and crowds of the Christmas shopping season. Give as you live provides a price comparison search and donates money to charity when you shop at no extra cost to you, so you can save money on your Christmas shopping and support a good cause at the same time! Some online stores will even deliver as late as Christmas Eve and many offer Click and Collect services. If the expense of Christmas is causing you anxiety, you may find this advice from Money Saving Expert useful.

Alcohol

The celebratory spirit of Christmas and New Year often involves social drinking and although the consumption of alcohol might make you feel more relaxed, it is important to remember that alcohol is a depressant and drinking excessive amounts can cause low mood, irritability or potentially aggressive behavior. By not exceeding the recommended number of safe units, you will be better able to sustain good mental and physical well being.

Food

The festive period has become synonymous with over-indulgence, which in turn prompts a pressing desire for many of us to lose weight in the New Year. Where possible, maintain a good balance of fruit, vegetables, carbohydrates, protein and omega 3 sources throughout the year in order to be in good physical condition and have sufficient energy. Maintaining a healthy diet and weight can improve your mood and can work towards preventing symptoms of lethargy and irritability that many of us feel during the busy festive season and dark winter months.

Exercise

Physical activity releases the feel-good chemicals, endorphins, which help you to relax, feel happy and boost your mood. By undertaking simple tasks such as cycling to work, walking in the park, or joining in with Christmas games, you can benefit from experiencing reduced anxiety, decreased depression and improved self-esteem. In addition, recent research has indicated that regular exercise can help to boost our immune systems, enabling us to better fight off colds and flu viruses that are prolific in winter months.

Five ways to stay active over the Christmas period
  1. Go ice-skating! At this time of year there are a number of outdoor ice-rinks around various locations to enjoy.
  2. Go for a winter walk! It is a less strenuous form of exercise than going for a hard-core session in the gym.
  3. Prefer to be indoors? Why not dance to some festive tunes. A fun way to burn off the Christmas turkey!
  4. Take advantage of the Christmas weather. If it snows perhaps build a snowman or have a snowball fight.
  5. Do activities as a family. Over indulgence is hard to avoid around Christmas so why not decide to go for a winter walk with all the family after dinner.

Get involved

The festive period provides us with an ideal opportunity to talk to, visit or engage with the people around us. Face-to-face communication has been shown to improve our mental and physical well being as this interaction produces the hormone, oxytocin, which can benefit our immune system, heart health and cognitive function. You could arrange a shared experience as a gift for a friend or loved one such as a cookery lesson or cinema outing. If you’re travelling to visit family or friends for Christmas booking travel in advance can often be much cheaper. If you are apart from your family then volunteering for a charity or local community organisation can provide that same human contact, as well as help provide essential support and encouragement for others in need. These interactions can easily be sustained throughout the coming year and need not just be for Christmas.

Stay in touch

There’s nothing better than catching up with someone face-to-face, but that’s not always possible. Give them a call, drop them a note or chat to them online instead. Keep the lines of communication open – it’s good for you!

If you’re feeling out of touch with some people, Christmas can be a good opportunity to reconnect with a card, email or phone call. Talking can be a good way to cope with a problem you’ve been carrying around in your head.

If something is worrying you, whether it’s work, family problems or other feelings, just being listened to can help you feel supported and less alone. It works both ways: if you open up, it might encourage others to do the same and get something off their mind.

Try to relax

Christmas can be a very busy and stressful time as we prepare to entertain family and friends, worry about cooking a delicious Christmas dinner, and fit in some last minute present shopping. These feelings of being under pressure can produce symptoms of anxiety, anger and difficulty sleeping which, if prolonged, could have a long-term detrimental impact on your mental health and wellbeing.

By exercising more regularly or practicing mindfulness – a combination of meditation, yoga and breathing techniques – you can help to both alleviate the symptoms of your stress and gain more control when coping with difficult situations. Christmas presents aside, implementing a new exercise regime or signing up for a course in mindfulness – such as our online course in mindfulness-based stress reduction – could be your best investment for a more relaxed Christmas and New Year. You may also find our relaxation podcasts useful.

Do good

Helping others is good for your own mental health and wellbeing. It can help reduce stress, improve your mood, increase self-esteem and happiness and even benefit your physical health.

Christmas is a good opportunity to volunteer for a charity or local community organisation and provide essential support and encouragement for others in need. You can find lots of suggestions of how to make doing good part of your life in our pocket guide.

Sleep

Despite many of us having time off work during Christmas and the New Year, our sleep patterns can be disturbed between catching up with friends and family and partying late in to the night. There is mounting evidence on the link between sleep and mental wellbeing, meaning improvements in the quality of your sleep could result in improvements to your overall mental health.

There are several steps you can take towards achieving a better night’s sleep: attempting to get back in to your regular sleep routine as soon as possible after the party period, consuming less alcohol during the festivities, implementing regular exercise into your weekly routine, and taking measures to alleviate your stress. You might find our sleep and relaxation podcast useful and you can find lots more useful advice in our Sleep Well pocket guide.

https://www.mentalhealth.org.uk/a-to-z/c/christmas-and-mental-health