Look after your mental health over the holidays

Thursday, 8 December 2016 – Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement
Look after your mental health over the holidays

In the run up to Christmas, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is reminding people of the importance of looking after their own mental health and that of their family and friends over the holiday period.

Christmas is traditionally seen as a time of joy and celebration, but for some people it can be a stressful and lonely time.

Séamus Mullen, Head of Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement (Belfast and South Eastern) with the PHA, said: “A lot of us will be looking forward to Christmas, so that we can spend time with our friends and family. It can however also be a stressful time, with people experiencing loneliness, remembering a loved one who has died or worrying about money for presents.”

Taking time out to remember a few simple ways to help protect your mental wellbeing over the holidays could make all the difference. These could be based around Take Five Steps to Wellbeing:

• Connect: Make time for family and friends over the Christmas period;

• Be active: It may be cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Go for a walk or run, cycle, play a game, garden or dance. Exercising makes you feel good;

• Take notice: Stop, pause, or take a moment to look around you;

• Keep Learning: Don’t be afraid to try something new, rediscover an old hobby or set yourself a new challenge over the holidays;

• Give: Don’t be afraid to give and accept support – being available for others if they need support should encourage them to be there for you too.

“People often use alcohol to relax, but instead of helping us to cope it can make things worse,” said Séamus. “If you choose to drink, staying within the safe drinking limits and avoid excessive or binge drinking.”

Séámus also urged people to look out for family members, friends and neighbours over the holidays.
“If you have worries or concerns about someone you know, start a conversation with them. Ask them about their feelings and ask if there is anything you can do to support them.”

More information on looking after your mental health and the support available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info

Information about Take 5 steps to wellbeing is available at www.pha.site/5-steps-wellbeing

A leaflet for those who are concerned about suicide is available at www.pha.site/concernedaboutsuicide

If you or someone you know is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info

Notes to the editor

1. Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing was developed by Belfast Strategic Partnership’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing Group and is based on the Five Ways to Wellbeing, developed by the New Economics Foundation (NEF).