Look after your mental and emotional wellbeing during the holidays
As Christmas and New Year approaches, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people to look after their mental wellbeing and that of their family and friends during the holiday season.
Fiona Teague Mental Health and Emotional Wellbeing lead at the PHA said: “We have all been through an incredibly challenging time dealing with the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and as we approach the holiday season, it’s even more important to look after our mental and emotional wellbeing. It’s also important to be aware of how our family and friends are coping.
“People look forward to spending time with friends and family and relaxing during the holidays, however, for some people this is a very difficult time, perhaps because of the pressure to spend beyond their budget, the extra stress involved in planning the perfect Christmas, dealing with recent bereavement, feelings of isolation or loneliness, or dealing with the impact that COVID-19 may be having on their lives.
“There are a wide range of resources, support information available online to support your mental and emotional wellbeing, including a link to the COVIDWellbeing NI Hub and an interactive resources pack, available on
“We would encourage people to take some time over the holidays, to read through the resources and get familiar with the self-help tips and advice. It would be a great way to build up skills and ideas to help deal with stress, anxiety or negative thinking when needed most, whether now or in the future.”
Some of these ideas include Taking Five Steps to Wellbeing:
- Connect: Make time for family and friends over the holiday period, this may involve checking in with them using Zoom or phone call or meeting for a walk. The holidays are also an important time to consider not spending too much time on your phone scrolling through social media as this can impact negatively on our mental wellbeing.
- Be active: It may be cold outside, but that doesn’t mean you can’t exercise. Go for a walk or run, walk the dog, cycle. Exercising makes you feel good.
- Take notice: Stop, pause, or take a moment to look around you. Make a list of what you consider to be grateful for in your life, this helps us to deal better with negative thinking.
- Keep learning: Don’t be afraid to try something new, rediscover an old hobby. Why not plan to take the free online stress control classes and learn new stress management skills to help you in the year ahead. The new classes will running from Monday 3 January for six weeks. Visit to find out more.
- 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.
Fiona added: “It is also important to look out for behaviour that could indicate that someone is under pressure and really needs help. If you are worried about someone, start a conversation with them and talk to them about your concerns. Ask them how they are feeling and if there is anything you can do to help them.”
Lifeline, Northern Ireland's free-phone 24/7 crisis counselling service is available every day of the year, including Christmas Day to take your call on 0808 808 8000. Lifeline counsellors can help you to support others in your life you may be concerned about, as the first call can be difficult to make when in distress.
If you have money worries, family conflict issues, dealing with bereavement, experiencing other social and wellbeing issues, there are also details of over 30 helplines available on the Helplines NI website. Simply visit and search under your topic of concern and the right helpline will be listed for you. Many of the helplines are free to call and also offer online chat support.