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 Athlone, 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.
GROW suggests five ways to promote positive mental health and to avoid feeling overwhelmed:
Make a list of things to do: Leaving all your Christmas preparations to the last minute can cause extra anxiety. Making a list of presents to buy, groceries to get, and jobs to do can help to organise your thoughts, prevent overspending, and avoid additional stress.
Take time out for yourself: Christmas is a time for reaching out to others, but do not forget yourself. Do not feel pressurised to do more than you feel up to. Make time for yourself and remember that Christmas Day is one day only.
Eat right, exercise, and get enough sleep: Research shows that exercise releases chemicals in your body that can make you feel good. You do not need to run a marathon; exercise can mean just a simple walk in the fresh air.
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.
Ask for help: Most important of all, remember it is 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 holds free weekly peer support meetings in Athlone for anyone aged over 18 who is struggling with any aspect of their mental health. For details visit www.grow.ie or call the GROW Infoline on (1890 ) 474 474. Alternatively, contact the Samaritans 24-hour helpline on 116 123.