Today has been suggested as the ‘most depressing day of the year’, and while the science behind such claims remains to be proven, the Public Health Agency (PHA) says that nonetheless ‘Blue Monday’ is a good opportunity to take time out to look after your own mental health and that of people close to you.
Mary Black, Assistant Director of Public Health, Health and Social Wellbeing Improvement, PHA, explained: “After the rush of Christmas, the New Year can be a challenging time with bills arriving and people often feeling lonely as their family and friends return to their normal daily activities.
“Regardless of whether there is any such thing as ‘Blue Monday’, it does offer an opportunity to make sure we look after our own mental health and look out for our relations, friends and neighbours.”
Taking time out to remember a few simple ways to protect your mental wellbeing at this time of year could make all the difference. These include:
- Giving and accepting support – being available for others if they need support will encourage them to be there for you too.
- Make time for yourself, family and friends – and talk to them about how you feel.
- Get to know who you are, think about and try to do things that make you really happy, and don’t forget to laugh regularly.
- Cultivate and encourage optimism in yourself and others, try to avoid over thinking and comparisons with others – learn to balance and accept what you can and cannot change about yourself.
- Exercise regularly, preferably with someone else.
Mary Black continued: “Figures show that the number of people accessing mental health web and phone support services actually remains steady throughout the year, so while people may feel that January is particularly bad, it is clear that we need to be aware of the signs of stress and depression all year round.
“It is important to look out for behaviour or feelings that could indicate that you, or someone you know, is showing signs of stress or problems under the surface. More information on looking after your mental health and the support available across Northern Ireland can be found at www.mindingyourhead.info
“If you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a free confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at www.lifelinehelpline.info.
Contact PHA Communications on 028 9055 3663