Mental Health

Unwrapping the present

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At Christmas time, sometimes we may forget, as cliché as it sounds, the true meaning of Christmas. Here at Social Sense we’re focusing on “unwrapping the present” by putting aside the materialistic items, the food and the drinks.


There are many different ways to feel “present” around Christmas, and this can vary depending on the individual. Here are some ideas to help you take time to appreciate and be present in the moment:

Being Grateful

Sometimes it can be all too easy to forget to be grateful for the people around us, the love, the peace and blessings we receive throughout the year. It is important to show our gratitude, for ourselves and others.

“Thank you is the key that opens the door to instant happiness.”

Focusing on the 4 A’s of Gratitude:

  1. Appreciation– Being appreciative of the gifts we give and receive, and for all that we are blessed with around Christmas.
  2. Approval– Give praise and approval for every occasion and for every accomplishment – no matter the size. This could be a family member who has cooked Christmas dinner, or to a loved one for doing an amazing job despite the busy and stressful time of Christmas. Remember, whatever you praise gets repeated.
  3. Admiration– Compliment people on their accomplishments in work and private life. Make someone feel happier and good this Christmas.
  4. Attention– Listen patiently, thoughtfully and without interrupting. True listeners hear what’s being said to them. By expressing your gratitude to others in this way you increase your own happiness.

“The most selfish thing you can do in this world is help someone else, why? Because of the feeling it can give you.”

Practice Meditation

During meditation, brain scans see increased activity in regions directly correlated with decreased anxiety and depression. Meditation has been found to improve memory, self-awareness and goal setting. Setting goals is important as it can help trigger new behaviours, help guide your focus and helps you sustain that momentum in life. Setting a goal like being “present” can instantly have an impact this Christmas.

Meditation can reduce stress through the controlling of your breathing whilst also controlling the variability of your heart-rate. A great free meditation can be found online at: (

Find Balance

It is important over Christmas that you find balance when visiting friends and family, whilst ensuring that you do not overwhelm yourself with trying to fit everything in. Ensure you to take time for yourself allowing for a break to recharge in time for the new year.

It can also be hard being around family, as we might prefer to have our own space. Find a way of getting that space, even by doing simple things such as going on a walk, going to the gym or going to a café by yourself.

Whilst there are many positives to social media, it also comes with a lot of negatives such as social isolation and sleep deprivation. Make sure you find a balance between spending time on technology and social media, with actually being present in the real world.

Happy holidays and enjoy unwrapping your present!

by Charlotte Yiatrou

Digital Marketing Apprentice

Introducing Nadia Miller

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Due the continued growth and success of our Mindful Me programme, Social Sense is excited to welcomed Nadia Miller to its ever-growing team. Nadia will lead the training and development of our Mindfulness courses in schools and workplaces across the North West.

We sat down with Nadia to find out more about her.

Welcome to the team Nadia! Can you share with people how you got into teaching Mindfulness?

Following a lot of trauma and tragedy in childhood, I was diagnosed with depression and traits of an emotional unstable personality disorder. After 20 years of different types of therapies, I had Compassion Focused Therapy (CFT) which touched upon Mindfulness and helped me get to recovery. For me this means learning to manage my mental health condition.

This led me to the Manchester Buddhist Centre where I started to practice Buddhism and it is here, I saw a poster to train as a Mindfulness Teacher with Breathworks, a globally recognised Mindfulness provider. I took an interest in this straight away, as the Breathworks training is built upon compassionate foundations and shines through all the training they deliver. As I embarked on the teacher training, I got a real direct felt experience of the impact of this, and it would later prove invaluable to my mental health recovery journey.

Where are you in your training

I am accredited to deliver Breathworks 8-week Mindfulness for Health and Stress courses or what would be the Level 2 equivalent for Social Sense (Level 1 is awareness).

How has mindfulness has helped you?


I have become more mindful through meditating and practising mindfulness each day e.g. slowing down, paying attention to the present moment (slowly making a cup of tea, noticing clouds passing, feeling my feet on the floor) and this has helped me notice my triggers earlier due to the awareness developed from this. The result is that I no longer self-harm and I am able to work with intense emotions when I experience episodes which are now very rare. For me being able to take preventative action is key.


Mindfulness gives us choice between our thoughts and is scientifically proven to create new neuro pathways and help rewire the brain.


Another impact aspect that mindfulness has supported me tremendously with, is learning to accept how I feel, being able to sit with this in a non-judgemental, compassionate manner.

The result of this has meant that I am able to keep growing, becoming in life. I am not paralysed by habitual ways of thinking, restricting me from showing up for myself and the world.

How do you feel about joining Social Sense?

I am really excited to be joining the Social Sense team. This is a great opportunity for me in terms of supporting individuals to create awareness of mindfulness through direct felt experience with a view to providing the coping mechanisms that mindfulness can bring.

I am inspired by the way Social Sense are trying to share Mindfulness with more people at a whole population (and preventative) level but I believe I also bring, through my own lived experience, an ability to connect with people who are currently struggling with their mental health.

Nadia profile ppic

For more information visit:

“What’s the best and worst decision you have made in business?”

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Our MD Gary Lovatt was asked that recently by Bob Buckley, who chose Gary alongside 11 other guests for his first Twelve Scholars Podcast series.

They also discussed some of the factors behind decision making for young people and how Social Norms and Mindfulness can each play a role in changing lives and creating healthier society.

We hope you like it and will share your thoughts, plus your best and worst decisions too.😊

Empowering 5,000 teenagers to take control of their emotional health and wellbeing

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mindful-meOver a year ago, we created Mindful Me as a response to the growing reports of anxiety and self-harm rates that young people were telling us in surveys1 ran through our R U Different? programme. Read the rest of this entry »

There’s more than one way to build resilience

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By Gary Lovatt

Working intensively with partners from Health, Crime and Education it’s hard to get through a meeting these days without the mention of needing to build ‘better resilience’ in young people.

Indeed it’s refreshing that after years of apparent compartmentalisation of behaviours into different areas (alcohol, smoking, sexual activity, anti-social behaviour, self-harming etc) we’re learning that attitudes and behaviours generally start with addressing the protective factors that allow young people to make better, informed choices.

So how do you achieve and measure resilience? The answer is that you need to adopt a multi-targeted strategy, starting with examining the determinants of those behaviours in more detail. Read the rest of this entry »

Seek Prevention not Treatment

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By Grace Kelly

It has been unavoidable in the news recently; from exam stress causing teen suicides to a report finding that more than 25% of young people referred to mental health services such as CAMHs are receiving no specialist help at all because cases are not deemed ‘serious’ enough.

The simple fact is that the numbers of young people suffering from crippling conditions like anxiety and depression is growing, with teen self-harm and suicide also on the increase; and mental health services simply cannot cope. Read the rest of this entry »

Changing Young Lives Using Mindfulness and Therapeutic Life Coaching

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Changing Young Lives Using Mindfulness and Therapeutic Life Coaching

The Emotional Health and Wellbeing of our young people remains our greatest challenge. Exam targets, conformity pressures and the 24/7 spotlight of social media are just some of the reasons cited for the rises in anxiety, depression and unhappiness we are seeing in our surveys. Read the rest of this entry »

Mindfulness – the next part of our journey

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mindfulness-title (2)Over the past 6 years we have been working with young people on programmes designed to challenge perceptions, create informed choices and build resilience.

Identifying and tackling Social Norms can make a measurable difference in terms of reducing risk taking behaviour among teenagers and adolescents. Understanding peer behaviour has enabled us to measurably tackle drinking, smoking and drug rates.

When it comes to emotional health and wellbeing however, a more subtle approach is often needed. Read the rest of this entry »