Look after your mental health this festive season

Look after your mental health this festive season

As Christmas approaches, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people to look after their mental health and that of their family and friends during the holiday season.

Amanda O’Neill, Senior Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement Officer with the PHA, said: “Many of us will be looking forward to Christmas when we can spend more time with our family and friends.

“However, for some people this is a very difficult time, perhaps because of the expense involved, stress, bereavement, or feelings of isolation or loneliness.”

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 Amanda. “If you choose to drink, staying within the safe drinking limits and avoid excessive or binge drinking.”

Amanda encouraged people to look out for the welfare of friends, family and neighbours over Christmas.

“It is 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.”

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

To find out more about alcohol, or to get help from a professional – either for yourself, or someone you care for or are concerned about – visit www.drugsandalcoholni.info

Information about Take 5 steps to wellbeing is available at http://pha.site/fivesteps

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).