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Combat Stress releases top tips to help former servicemen and women cope with pressure of Christmas

Combat Stress, the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health, is sharing its tops tips to help former servicemen and women cope with the Christmas and New Year period.

Christmas is a time for celebration, yet it can be difficult for veterans with mental health problems. Some may feel isolated, lonely or depressed, while others can feel overwhelmed by large gatherings of family and friends, or feel they don’t have time for themselves.

Combat Stress has put together 10 steps veterans can take to enjoy Christmas and the New Year. In fact, it’s advice most people can use if they feel overwhelmed or anxious during the festivities. The tips are:

  • Take time out for yourself
  • Go outdoors for a walk or activity
  • Do something you enjoy
  • Relax with a bath, hot chocolate or play music
  • Remember to take your medication
  • Help out by volunteering for local projects or charities
  • Watch a film
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine
  • Eat the right ‘good’ food
  • Get support – call the Combat Stress Helpline

The tips include advice to practice meditation, which is especially good to do if you become stressed when surrounded by lots of people on a busy high street or when celebrating Christmas with loved ones. Take yourself off to a quiet place – a coffee shop or another room – and then return when you feel less anxious.

Going outside for a walk or outdoor activities is a good way to distract yourself from things that are causing you stress or anxiety. Avoiding alcohol and caffeine three hours before bedtime will improve your chances of having a good night’s sleep, while getting your five a day of fruit and vegetables will not only help feed a healthier body but also a healthier mind.

Sue Freeth, Chief Executive of Combat Stress, said: “We know many veterans with mental health conditions can find the Christmas period particularly challenging. We hope our tips, put together by our specialist clinical team, will help.

“It’s important veterans talk to a friend or family member about how they’re feeling so they can receive support. The Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline is available throughout Christmas and the New Year. We strongly encourage veterans and their loved ones to call us for help and support on 0800 138 1619, text us on 07537 404 719 or email helpline@combatstress.org.uk.”

Combat Stress’ Christmas tips will be shared on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram from 14 December through to Christmas Eve.

ENDS

For more information please contact Nicola Hudson, PR and Communications Officer, on 01372 587165 / 07711 590259 or at nicola.hudson@combatstress.org.uk.

Notes to editors:

Combat Stress is the UK’s leading charity for veterans’ mental health.

For almost a century we’ve helped former servicemen and women deal with issues like trauma, anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder.

Over the past five years (2012 to 2017) we have seen an average of more than 2,000 referrals each year. Demand for our services continues to grow – we have seen a 143% increase in referrals from ten years ago.

On average it takes 12 years after leaving the military for veterans to contact Combat Stress for help, by which time their condition is often highly complex. However, veterans of the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts are coming to Combat Stress much sooner (three and four years respectively).

To help veterans rebuild their lives, we provide a range of free services:

  • Short-stay clinical treatment at our treatment centres
  • A specialist Intensive Treatment Programme – delivered at our treatment centres
  • Community Teams – providing treatment and practical support to veterans. Last year our regional community teams undertook almost 5,400 face-to-face appointments
  • Outpatients – assessment by psychiatrists and psychologists – at our treatment centres and in the community – enables us to diagnose, define and deliver the treatment veterans require
  • Occupational therapy – delivered at our treatment centres and in the community, we use meaningful and creative activity to encourage hope, wellbeing and recovery
  • Peer Support Service – Led by veterans for veterans, it’s the first UK-wide service of its kind for those with mental health problems. The service enables them to share their experiences, receive support and socialise with others with similar experiences.
  • Substance Misuse Case Management Service – helping veterans to access the services for their drug and alcohol problems so their mental health issues can be addressed
  • Our 24-hour Helpline is there for veterans, serving personnel and their families (0800 138 1619)

Useful links

Combat Stress, Registered Charity 206002; Registered Charity in Scotland SC038828; Company Ltd by guarantee: 256353.

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