Christmas and the New Year are times of festivity and celebration, but for many of us they can also be periods of anxiety, stress and loneliness.
The mental health charity, GROW, which holds free weekly support meetings in Longford and Granard, is urging people to be kind to themselves this festive season, to reach out to others and to remember that health and wellbeing begins with good mental health.
John Farren, GROW’s Area Coordinator in County Longford, explains how Christmas and the New Year can often be fraught with added stress and anxiety.
“One in four people in Ireland experience serious mental health difficulties at some stage in their lives so maintaining positive mental health and wellbeing is vitally important for us all,” he emphasised.
“At this time of the year, we sometimes get caught up with the stresses of the season. This Christmas and New Year, it is important to give yourself a present, the present of looking after your own mental wellbeing,” he added.
GROW suggests five ways to promote positive mental health and to avoid feeling overwhelmed.
1. Make a list of things to do:
One way to combat festive stress is to plan ahead. Leaving all your Christmas preparations to the last minute can cause extra anxiety. Making a list of presents to buy, groceries and jobs to do can help to organise your thoughts, prevent overspending and avoid additional stress. Sometimes it is also helpful to write down three positive things that you would like to do this Christmas and New Year.
2. Take time out for yourself:
Christmas is a time for reaching out to others but don’t forget yourself. Don’t feel pressured to do more than you feel up to. Make time for yourself and remember that Christmas Day is one day only.
3. Make sure to eat right, exercise and get enough sleep:
Research shows that exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. You don’t need to run a marathon; exercise can mean just a simple walk outdoors in the fresh air.
4. Reach out to others:
Reach out to others and remember that a friend is as near as the nearest phone. Reaching out to others more often can help to boost our own mental wellbeing and that of others.
5. Ask for help:
Most important of all, remember it’s okay to ask for help. If you feel very low or anxious, talk to others, pick up the phone or reach out for help if things are getting too much for you and you feel you can’t cope.
GROW is dedicated to promoting positive mental health and has been helping people on the road to mental health recovery for almost 50 years. GROW holds free weekly peer support meetings in Longford and Granard for anyone aged over 18 who is struggling with any aspect of their mental health.
For details of your nearest GROW meeting visit www.grow.ie or call the GROW Infoline on 1890 474 474. Alternatively, if you are in a crisis and want to talk, contact the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123.