Mind your mental health over the festive period

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, or so the song says - but for many, Christmas can be tough for a number of reasons.

Irish healthcare provider, VIGO Health recognises that Christmas can be a difficult time for many people struggling with their mental health as well as an onset of anxieties and worries. Furthermore, some support services may run at a reduced level. GP surgeries tend to close, and some therapists may not work over the Christmas period.

All the while surrounded by family and friends, feelings of loneliness and isolation can develop. You are not alone. Societal pressures such as meeting people for Christmas drinks can have added pressure to enjoy yourself and look happy, pressure to eat and drink alcohol when you don’t want to or can’t.

Uncertainties surrounding the Coronavirus, new strains and increasing positive case numbers can induce added stresses and worries, particularly for young people who might be used to socialising this year. Pressure to join in with bigger celebrations over the Christmas period when you may not feel comfortable being in big groups or busy locations can raise anxieties, especially if you have a health condition or are concerned about keeping loved ones healthy and safe.

VIGO Health nurse, Eva Cunningham shares some tips for coping at Christmas:

Be gentle and patient with yourself. Think about what you need. It’s okay to prioritise what’s best for you, even if others don’t understand. It may be helpful to talk to someone you trust.

Plan ahead: If there’s places you don’t want to go or that may make you feel more anxious or stressed, could you avoid going or reduce the time you spend there? Ask yourself, do I really need to do this? Try to plan something nice to do after Christmas to look forward to.

Look after yourself: Set boundaries and say no to things that aren’t good for you. Take some time out to read a book or watch a film. Give yourself what you need. If you need a break instead of doing something, let yourself do that. If you can’t avoid something difficult, plan something for yourself afterwards to help reduce the stress or distress you might feel.

Talk to people: Let them know you’re struggling. It can often feel like it’s just you but you’re never alone. (See support services below ). You don’t have to justify yourself to others. If you feel pressured to let them know that certain situations are difficult for you, tell them what they can do to help.

While people prepare for the Christmas season VIGO Health has seen a 30% increase in demand for their Message a Doctor service in the last few weeks particularly among younger adults. Interestingly the most popular claimed benefit in November was for psychotherapist and mental health counselling, further highlighting the demand and need for mental health support services as the external media environment becomes more negative with covid related restrictions.

Ruth Bailey, CEO of VIGO Health, says “Christmas is a time when people are festive and cheerful and there are added pressures from society to ‘be happy’ and get involved with activities, be it socially with friends or at home with family.

For many people, this is not the case. It’s a time when a number of anxieties and worries come to the fore. Be that financial worries, family problems, isolation, expectations to drink more and ‘be sociable’ and keeping yourself and loved ones healthy and safe during a global pandemic.

For those struggling with their mental health, there are a number of supports available over Christmas. We also offer our customers instant access to GP advice via WhatsApp as well as phone consultations with a doctor 24 hours a day, video calls with a doctor until 10pm and access to mental health counselling support.”

Services available for support:

Youth Mental Health: Jigsaw - https://jigsaw.ie/find-a-jigsaw/

Pieta House – 1800 247 247 or text help to 51444. You can find contact details for your local centre on the Pieta House website. Simply call them to book an appointment.

Samaritans - [email protected] Contact them by telephone on 116 123 or text 087 2 60 90 90

Aware: A service for people affected by stress, depression, bipolar disorder and mood related conditions. You can contact them for support and further information on appropriate treatment.

Aware offers listening and information services on both telephone and email. You can contact them by telephone on 1800 80 48 48 (Monday to Sunday from 10am – 10pm ) or via email on [email protected] (expect response within 24 hours ).

All VIGO Health members can get instant advice from a doctor 24 hours a day and can access mental health counselling support – both for virtual consultations as well as face to face sessions. There is also a €50 contribution towards Calm or Headspace subscription apps.

VIGO Health is an insurance intermediary, authorised in Ireland. Irish Life Health underwrites the cash benefits of the VIGO cash plan while VIGO Health provides digital health services directly to customers. Irish Life Group is an investor in VIGO Health.

For more information about VIGO Health visit https://vigohealth.ie/


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