by Vicki Badham

As I write this, the Christmas lights are already up in East Dulwich (although not yet lit) and the shops are beginning to look increasingly festive. For many, this build-up to Christmas is exciting and joyous. However, for many it is a time that is fraught with worry and pressure. It can also be a very lonely and isolating time for those who for whatever reason can’t spend Christmas with their family or friends.

If you are dreading the festive season, remember you are not the only one – despite the messages that we get from TV adverts and the media generally, lots of people do not look forward to Christmas at all. It’s also important to remember that there is no ‘right’ way of doing Christmas – it’s about what works for you so as hard as this is to do, try to ease the pressure from yourself by not seeking to conform to the Christmas stereotypes.

For those of you who wish that you could bypass Christmas, here are some tips to get through the next few weeks:

If you are spending Christmas alone:

  • The People Care Association run a Christmas lunch for elderly and disabled Southwark residents at 1pm at Bacon’s College, Timber Pond Road, Rotherhithe, SE16 6AT. For further information, including on transport to and from the lunch, go to
  • The Copleston Centrewill be holding their annual Christmas Event for vulnerable or isolated local residents on Thursday 21 December 2017 and are looking for volunteers to help on the day. For further information, go to
  • Lots of charities are looking for volunteers over Christmas, including Crisis. For further information go to

If you are a carer:

  • Southwark Carers are holding their Christmas Lunch from 13.00 – 17.00 on the 1st December 2017 at the Walworth Methodist Church, 54 Camberwell Road, London SE5 0EN. To register, go to

If you are worrying about Christmas;

  • Give yourself the space each day to switch off from the stress. Mindfulness or meditation can really help with this, but it’s really about whatever works best for you. It could, therefore, also be physical exercise, drawing, listening to music or reading – whatever it is that you feel helps to clear your mind, even if it is for a short time.
  • Talk to friends and family – you’ll probably be surprised at how many others worry about Christmas and who can act as a support network.
  • If you feel really desperate; call the Samaritans on 116 123 (it’s a Freephone number). Lots of people think that you need to be suicidal to call them but that’s not the case; they are a listening service for people in need of someone to share their problems with.
  • If you are worried about money, try calling National Debtline which offers free, independent advice online via and on 0808 808 4000.

Vicki Badham │ BACP Accredited Counsellor │