CHRISTMAS isn't always the fun, happy time it's supposed to be for people. For some, the festive period can leave us feeling low.
Debt, loneliness, relationship breakdowns, family tension, grief and the bad weather can snowball into an overwhelming sense of anxiety or inadequacy.
And these feelings can seem worse when we're surrounded by all the Christmas cheer.
Tony McLaren, National Coordinator of Breathing Space Scotland, the phone line and website for people in Scotland feeling down, anxious or depressed, said: "Breathing Space traditionally sees an increase in calls to the phone line and visits to our website during the winter months. Many factors can push some people to breaking point.
"Remember, if you are experiencing emotional distress during the festive season and feel you can't talk to your family or friends, then call a phone line such as Breathing Space. Our advisers are available every day of the year to listen and offer you support." Here's our guide to keeping your spirits up during the Christmas holidays� Debt - money worries can increase as we feel pressure to spend cash we perhaps don't have on gifts for our loved ones. If you're concerned about debt or your spending, get some expert advice at your local Citizens Advice Bureau www.cas.org.uk, Money Advice Scotland www.moneyadvicescotland.org.uk or the National Debtline on 0808 808 4000.
Relationships - finding yourself stuck in a room with family members for long periods of time can leave emotions running high. Diffuse the tension by going for a walk, or playing a game, anything to help you relax and keep a sense of balance. If you find yourself dealing with a relationship breakdown, it's OK to talk to loved ones - they will want to support you. Alternatively, you can contact relationship experts such as Scottish Marriage Care www.scottishmarriagecare.org or Couple Counselling in Scotland www.couplecounselling.org Loneliness - facing a Christmas Day alone or seeing other people heading off to family bashes or work parties can deepen our feelings of isolation. You are not alone, there are lots of people who feel like you. During the holidays, why not consider doing some volunteer work or getting involved with a community project to get you spending some time with people? If you feel overwhelmed with loneliness right now seek help. Call Samaritans on 08457 90 90 90 www.samaritans.org or Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87.
Grief - Christmas and New Year can be a nostalgic time and for those who have experienced a bereavement it can be particularly poignant. Speak to a spiritual adviser and don't be afraid to admit to loved ones that you're struggling with the loss. If you think talking to a counsellor might help, contact COSCA (Counselling and Psychotherapy in Scotland) www.cosca.org.uk or CRUSE (Bereavement Counselling) on 0845 600 2227 www.crusescotland.org.uk Winter blues - The dark mornings, bad weather, heavy workloads, hectic social lives, or even looking back on the year gone and looking to the year ahead can make us feel down or anxious. Try to stay healthy by eating well, drinking in moderation, getting enough sleep and not overbooking your diary in the office or at home.
If you need to chat about how you are feeling, call Breathing Space on 0800 83 85 87 or visit www.breathingspacescotland.co.uk. Phone lines are open 6pm - 2am (Monday - Thursday) and 24 hours at weekends (Friday 6pm - Monday 6am) throughout the holidays. Ends Notes to Editors: 1.Breathing Space is a free, confidential phone line and website for people in Scotland who are feeling low or depressed and is open every day on 0800 83 85 87. Opening hours: 6pm - 2am (Monday - Thursday) and 24 hours at weekends (Friday 6pm - Monday 6am).
2.Breathing Space currently receives around 4,000 calls and 10,000 website hits per month. 3.The Breathing Space phone line is staffed by trained specialist advisers who can listen, offer advice and signpost callers to agencies in their local area that can help with more specific problems.
4.Breathing Space is confidential and the free phone number won't show up in telephone bills. Mobile phone users should check with their network as they may be charged for the call. Callers from Vodafone, Virgin, Orange or 3 networks will not be charged.
5.Breathing Space is part of the Scottish Government's 2009 to 2011 policy strategy and action plan, Towards a Mentally Flourishing Scotland.