Changes Advent Calendar

We are launching our Christmas advent calendar today, with contribution from our team members, we hope this will help you to find out a bit more about who we are and how we can support you.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 1 | Changes Video🎄✨

This film was created by Media Education

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 2 | A message from our administrator Margaret 🎄✨

Hello, my name is Margaret and I am part of the very welcoming administrative team at Changes. I enjoy speaking to people and doing my best to help everyone who contacts us for support. Wishing everyone a peaceful time at Christmas. Hoping that 2023 brings opportunities for making connections with other people and positive changes in our lives.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 3 | A message from our development manager Kelly 🎄✨

I wanted to share one of my favourite quotes, particularly in relation to the festive season:

“At the end of the day people won’t remember what you said or did, they will remember how you made them feel.”― Maya Angelou

There is so much pressure on people every year to buy the latest toys, matching festive jammies and eat the finest food….This year will see people feeling the financial implications much more, with the cost of living crisis.

I find this quote really helpful to keep myself in check as I love the festive season and it would be so easy to get carried away.

However, I think back to my own childhood and can only really remember 1 gift from Santa (or anyone else for that matter) in the 9 or so years of believing. What I do remember is spending more time with my family, playing board games with my siblings, watching movies, sometimes warming up with a hot chocolate (homemade), putting up the same decorations each year and delighting in the familiarity of them.

The memories of how I felt superseded the memories of what I received.

I find this advert very powerful:

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 4 | Wind Meditation 🎄✨

Wind Meditation is a 5-minute meditation you can try in the winter months.

Stand outside in a safe, comfortable spot and close your eyes. Feel the wind on your skin and focus on the sound of the wind in the air.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 5 | 5-4-3-2-1 exercise from Marina 🎄✨

Hi, my name is Marina and I’m Changes Communications and Engagement Officer. I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety for many years and know how feelings of disconnectedness can be exacerbated at holiday time. It is expected that during the Christmas season, we should be joyful, carefree and merry while spending time with friends and family, but for many people, this is a time when stress levels are at their highest as we try to balance our obligations, live up to the expectations, and deal with feelings of depression and anxiety.

I wanted to share one of my favourite exercises which helps to deal with stress and can help us to get out of negative thinking patterns.

Every time you feel overwhelmed try to find:

5 things you can see

4 things you can touch

3 things you can hear

2 things you can smell

1 thing you can taste

End this exercise with a long, deep breath.

This exercise can help you be more mindful and connect with the body sensations that you experience in the present moment. It can help decrease worrying and stay centred.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 6 | Italian Lemon and Almond Biscuits recipe from Caitlin 🎄✨

I’m Caitlin, Chief Executive of Changes. To get festive I like to do a bit of home baking. A recent study showed that baking improves mood, and 61% of bakers said that sharing their bakes with others makes them happy. I really enjoy trying out new recipes and find it very calming.

A lovely festive recipe I recently discovered is for homemade lemon and almond biscuits. These wee Italian treats called ‘ricciarelli’ are really easy to bake and make a lovely Christmas gift. I normally bake with a podcast or music and lately I’ve been listening to a singer and guitarist, Blanco White. I can’t get enough of it, it’s magically soothing and feels like a big warm calming hug!

Here’s my latest batch of ricciarelli.

You can find the recipe here.

and have a listen to Blanco White:

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 7 | Become a Befriender 🎄✨

Hi, my name’s Zanj and I’m the Befriending Coordinator. The highlight this year has been seeing befriendee’s grow in confidence and taking part in new hobbies like painting and writing. Setting up the Writer’s Club has also been so much fun and I look forward to the programme next year! I would encourage you all to befriend and support others as it’s a rewarding and exciting role!

To learn more about Befriending or The Writers Club contact Changes on: 0131 653 3977 or

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 8 | A message from Kim🎄✨

Hi, I’m Kim!

I’m one of the Changes administrators and a Musselburgh local. If you don’t find me in the Changes office, you’ll probably find me wandering around the wild places of Musselburgh and East Lothian with a wild toddler and wild lurcher in tow.

Here is a quote I love from the Scottish naturalist, campaigner and writer John Muir. It helps remind me of how beneficial time in nature can be for me and motivates me when I find it difficult to get outside on cold, wet winter days!

“Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the Autumn leaves”.

John Muir

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 9 | Help others🎄✨

Hello, I’m Annette the volunteer recruitment officer at Changes.

One of my favourite sayings is, ‘When you’re feeling helpless, help others’. I first heard this during a period of unemployment when I was beginning to feel quite pessimistic about my future – and it prompted me to volunteer. I learned that giving a small amount of my time can have a big impact on others – and that the benefit is mutual – and I now enjoy encouraging others to do the same.

You can find out more about volunteering with Changes here.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 10 | 4-7-8 Relaxing Breath exercise 🎄✨

Many people find breathing techniques like the 4-7-8 / Relaxing Breath to be quite effective. The 4-7-8 Breathing Exercise is really easy to make, requires almost no time to complete, needs no special equipment, and can be done anywhere.

The 4-7-8 Breath, also known as the Relaxing Breath, is the ideal stress reliever since it can quickly put the practitioner in a relaxed state. Dr. Weil explains how to do the 4-7-8 breathing technique ⬇️

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 11 | A message from our Walk Buddy and Nature Project worker Jade 🎄✨

Hello all, Christmas can provoke such mixed emotions, for some it’s the time of relaxing and celebrating, but for others it can feel lonely and difficult. I know over the years I have been in both places, and these are some of the things I have done when I have been in a not-so-great head space.

-Make a playlist on YouTube or Spotify of your favourite upbeat songs, put some headphones on and dance like no one is watching.

-Get outside, be that standing outside your door for 10 minutes and listening to the bird or wrapping up and going on a nature walk.

-Reach out to someone, be that a helpline like Samaritans or a neighbour. Just an interaction with a stranger can help pull us out of our darkest places.

-Make a list of your favourite comedy shows and watch one on a tough day.

-Treat yourself to a delicious soup, using pre chopped veg and a stock cube can help when you are in a bad place and cooking feels too hard.

-Know that you have gotten through all your hardest of days this far, and this too will pass as difficult as that feels right now.

I am genuinely wishing you the Christmas that you need, be that rest and recharging, connecting with others or being with others. I hope to see you at our nature activities in the new year.


✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 12 | You never know what life changes you can make until you try🎄✨

Hi, I am John, your Peer Support Worker for Changes Men’s Peer Support Group and one of the contacts for our Initial Telephone Appointments.

A photo of me feeling good at the top of a “Live Volcano.”

However, we all have dreams and hopes but life’s pathways and obstacles can be destructive, just like a Volcano, at any time of the year. Changes staff can help return these dreams and hopes.

Please get in touch for a chat you never know what life changes you can make until you try. Merry Christmas and a Great New Year to all.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 13 | Winter Walks🎄✨

Wear safe shoes and go for a winter walk – look for the ice patterns.

Take photos of the shapes and sights – please share them with us.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 14 | Indulge your creative side 🎄✨

Hi, I’m Caroline and I’m one of the Administrators with Changes. I’m a self taught crocheter in my spare time. It’s a very relaxing hobby and it’s nice to cosy up on the long dark evenings and lose myself in a project. Whether it be cooking, baking, singing, playing an instrument – indulging in your creative side is so good for your wellbeing.

I wish you all a peaceful festive season.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 15 | Winter Wellness 🎄✨

This beautiful artwork was created by local East Lothian artist Fantoosh Sketching on the window of the Changes office.It highlights the importance of nurturing ourselves. Whether it’s your mind or body, taking care of yourself begins with figuring out your needs. Spend some time thinking about your desires. Find moments to pause and simply be with yourself. Let these intentional moments be saturated with self-love.

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 16 | Reframing Winter in Dunbar 🎄✨

We’ll be hiding Reframing Winter booklets in various locations across East Lothian 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Today you can find these winter wellness booklets in Dunbar!

If you’re the one to find the booklet – snap a photo of it and share it with us by tagging @changeschp Look at the photos for the clues. Good luck!

✨🎄Changes Advent Calendar – Day 17 | A huge thank you to all our incredible volunteers 🎄✨

Thank you so much for giving your time to a good cause. Your dedication and time are the best gifts for us at Changes.

People who volunteer frequently report that it keeps their bodies and minds active, keeps them in contact with others, and gives them a very real sense of worth. If you are not involved locally we urge you to consider making volunteering part of your New Year’s Resolution!

Learn about volunteering with Changes.

✨🎄Changes Advent Calendar – Day 18 | Samantha’s Festive Greetings 🎄✨

Hi, I’m Samantha, Group therapy facilitator for Changes. Helping people become more self-compassionate is something I value. One thing I do for self-care is to go for a coastal walk no matter what the weather. I love seeing and hearing the waves and seeing the shimmering of the sand. Noticing the greatness of the sea helps to ground me and breathe. I am so grateful to be on East Lothian’s beautiful coastline. Here is a picture of the sea. Festive Greetings.

✨🎄Changes Advent Calendar – Day 19 | Reframing Winter at the Brunton’s Panto 🎄✨

We’ll be hiding Reframing Winter booklets in various locations across East Lothian. You can find these winter wellness booklets at the Brunton’s panto!

If you’re the one to find the booklet – snap a photo of it and share it with us by tagging @changeschp and #ChangesReframingWinter Look at the photos for the clues. Good luck!

✨🎄Changes Advent Calendar – Day 20 | Brian’s tips for building resilience 🎄✨

Hi, I’m Brian, the Training Co-ordinator at Changes. I organise and deliver Scotland’s Mental Health First Aid, safeTALK suicide awareness training, Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training and Crisis Handling Awareness Training. I can also do bespoke training around Suicide Prevention and Mental Health.

I would like to share some thoughts around taking care of our own Mental Health and building resilience to help us through difficult times. Doing things for ourselves from which we extract pleasure or happiness is a way of building resilience. If we are resilient then we are better able to deal with stress, anxiety and other nasty things life tends to throw at us.

We all have busy and complicated lives and if there are pressures on time the first thing that goes is usually what we love doing. If all we did was concentrate on ourselves then that would be selfish but if we never did things for ourselves then that is neglect. It is important that we find the balance. This is called self-care.

Learning to incorporate some time for ourselves is a skill. It does not need to be much, a short walk (round the block, round the garden), a relaxing bath, reading a book, watching our favourite TV programmes, spending quality time with friends/family/pets. We do not need to do these things for hours on end, just 10-15 minutes or half an hour. Be present in these moments, give them as much attention as we would the ‘tasks’ we have to do. When we do these things in that way, our brain gives us the good chemicals that help us de-stress.

I wish you a peaceful and calm festive break.

✨🎄Changes Advent Calendar – Day 21 | Free wellness booklets in Prestonpans 🎄✨

We’ll be hiding Reframing Winter booklets in various locations across East Lothian. You can find these winter wellness booklets in Prestonpans!

If you’re the one to find the booklet – snap a photo of it and share it with us by tagging @changeschp and #ChangesReframingWinter

Look at the photos for the clues. Good luck!

✨🎄 Changes Advent Calendar – Day 22 | I found there was, within me, an invincible summer 🎄✨

Hi, I’m Rebecca, Therapy Manager at Changes. Here’s a quote I love:

“In the midst of winter, I found there was, within me, an invincible summer. And that makes me happy. For it says that no matter how hard the world pushes against me, within me, there’s something stronger – something better, pushing right back.”

― Camus

We will be updating this page every day over the Christmas period. Keep an eye on this page not to miss new updates!

Contact us 0131 653 3977 or