As Christmas approaches, the Public Health Agency (PHA) is encouraging people to look after their mental health and that of their loved ones over the holiday period.
Christmas is traditionally viewed as a time of celebration and happiness.
Unfortunately for some Christmas can also be stressful and lonely.
Madeline Heaney, Regional Lead for Mental and Emotional Wellbeing at the PHA, said: “Many of us will be looking forward to the Christmas holidays so that we can spend time with our family and friends.
“However, this time of the year can also be stressful, with people worrying about money, remembering the loss of a loved one or feeling lonely.”
Practical tips on dealing with stress over Christmas include:
• 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;
• Make time for family and friends;
• Think about and try to do what makes you really happy;
• People often use alcohol to relax, but instead of helping us to cope it can make things worse. If you choose to drink, staying within the safe drinking limits and avoid excessive or binge drinking.
Madeline also encouraged people to look out for the welfare of others over the festive season.
“We should be mindful of our own mental health and also look out for family members, friends and neighbours.
“It is important to look out for behaviour that could indicate that someone is under pressure and really needs help. If you are worried or concerned about someone else, 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
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