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New Year Challenges

View profile for Liz Headley
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With Christmas and New Year celebrations now a distant memory, reality has probably kicked in and most of us have to face how expensive the festive season has been for us and how we have to continue to manage the cost-of-living crisis. I am sure that for most families, the new year can bring its own pressures and concerns, but maybe if you have suffered a bereavement or are going through relationship breakdown or are trying to manage as a single parent, the challenges are even more complex.

The first couple of months of the year are known to be the time when post-Christmas blues can occur and those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder are likely to feel at their worst in January and February. For some, in the short term, there feels little to look forward to and they can become introspective and self-absorbed. It is easy to lose sight of positives and ways forward when low mood strikes, and self-care can be very limited.

Christmas is a sentimental time of year and if you have suffered the loss of someone close to you in recent times, the pain of that loss can feel even more significant over the festive period. Speaking with a bereaved person, can be quite challenging for some. Understandably there is concern they might say ‘the wrong thing’ or that the person might get upset. However, offering the opportunity to someone to speak about the person who has died, can really make a difference, so it is worth putting any discomfort to one side and asking how they are and maybe mentioning their loss.

For those who have recently separated from their partner or who are trying to decide if and when to end a relationship, this time of year can feel particularly arduous. It can be a lonely time both physically and emotionally with many ‘unknowns’ having to be managed. The ending of a relationship is never easy, whether you are the partner who has chosen to leave or the partner who has been left. Suddenly becoming single and no longer part of a couple can be a shock and invite a whole range of strong emotions. Self-confidence and self-worth can suffer enormously, there are likely to be practical and financial concerns. Relationship and family breakdown is a life changing experience and inner strength and resilience are required to manage the impact.

Feelings of doubt and insecurity can impact on decision making, with sometimes the most basic choice taking on more significance than it previously would have done.

Turning to family and friends can be a great source of comfort, when trying to make life changing decisions or when suddenly taking on a lone role, such as a single parent or someone whose partner has recently passed away. For most people, committing to a relationship is a life-long dedication and to suddenly, maybe unexpectedly, be left alone can be extremely distressing.

Leaving a long-term relationship or being left can be quite traumatic for some, equally managing the demands of children without a partner, can be exhausting and exacting. Living with grief and loss is never easy. Support can be offered to those in distress by their loved ones and that can go quite a long way to alleviate some of the pain and anxiety they might be feeling.

Sadly, some people either don’t have many family members or friends that they can turn to or feel that they cannot share their sorrow with anyone. This situation can invite feelings of isolation and loneliness.

Perhaps post-Christmas, during January and February, we should all be a little a little more vigilant, checking in on those who seem to be low in mood or more worried and anxious than usual. Just providing a listening ear to a friend, acquaintance, family member or neighbour can really be helpful to them. We may not be able to change anything for them, but just giving them the opportunity to offload can be really beneficial.

Professional help can be sought to offer a different perspective on circumstances and maybe answer some of the many questions that might be going through the heads of those facing or managing life changing circumstances and/or decisions.  This might be some form of medical intervention, help from a specialist agency, therapeutic support or maybe some legal expertise. There is help there in a variety of forms that can assist those who are struggling at this time of year.

Maybe, we can all resolve at this time of year that we will be more aware of others, ask them how they are doing and be available to offer them some solace and comfort if need be.

Brethertons offer a range of services to those in distress. Their teams offer sound legal advice and have a warm, empathic approach to those they speak with. There is also a therapeutic intervention that clients can access free of charge when they are going through distressing times.