Screen Shot 2015-12-01 at 15.49.04Christmas, maybe known as the season of joy and goodwill to all, but for so many people in the North East, surviving the stress of the festive season is a real struggle.

Whether the expense of the holiday period is giving you sleepless nights or Christmas revives unhappy memories such as the death of a loved one or a relationship breakdown, there are steps you can take to help you cope.

Newcastle-based not-for-profit organisation Mindful Therapies will be helping people to tackle their festive fears and experience a psychological uplift at a special free event on December 5.

The session will introduce people to the idea of mindfulness, which is based on an ancient Buddhist concept and helps people to focus their awareness on the present moment rather than worrying about issues outside their control.

Counsellor, meditation and mindfulness specialist Rachel Jones-Wild set up Mindful Therapies, which operates from Broadacre House, Newcastle in 2013.

She said: “Our Christmas event is to introduce people to the idea of mindfulness and show them how the technique can help them cope with things that they can’t control.

“Mindfulness is especially relevant when you feel that everything is getting on top of you and you simply can’t deal with it. It’s a situation so many people find themselves in at Christmas, and they end up dreading this time of the year.

“Counselling can help you to develop coping strategies and to put things into perspective, and mindfulness is about living in and appreciating the moment.”

Rachel started Mindful Therapies, as a non-profit organisation to ensure that the support she offers is available to all. She runs courses and drop-in sessions based on people’s ability to pay and where appropriate, she often asks for donations rather than a set fee. In the New Year, Rachel is aiming to expand her reach to the business community to help executives and management teams deal with stress at work.

She has been teaching meditation for six years and uses mindfulness to help people navigate their way through pain, stress and mental health issues. Gateshead College, Remploy, charities and mental health groups are among the organisations that Rachel and her social enterprise business partner; leadership and performance coach, Mark Sidney work with.

‘The Mindful Therapies programme is a unique combination of mindfulness and positive psychology that promotes happier lives for all. We have an emphasis on positive psychology too and practicing mindfulness can have a wide range of benefits for physical and emotional wellbeing,” said Mark.

“These include developing coping strategies for everyday life, in this case dealing with Christmas, improving relationships, aiding concentration levels and better decision making. Our courses are particularly useful for people experiencing chronic pain, those suffering stress, anxiety or depression or for those simply wishing to live richer, happier, more connected lives.”

The free Christmas mindfulness drop-in session takes place at Broadacre House, Market Street in Newcastle between 2.30pm and 4pm on December 5 straight after the venue’s “alternative” Christmas Fair.

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