CHRISTMAS is undoubtedly the most stressful season, but for many in our community it can simply be too much. This year people in Fermanagh are being urged to mind themselves and others.
Many are left exhausted or overwhelmed by the pressures at this time of year, while for others it’s the season of isolation or loneliness. There are steps you can take to make it more manageable, however.
Bridie Sweeney, pictured below, from the Aisling Centre said: “While many people look forward to Christmas, for others it can be a difficult time perhaps because of the financial pressures, or the loss of a loved one, or strained family relationships,” she said. “Increased consumption of alcohol over the Christmas period can also lead to increased feelings of stress or depression.”
Ms Sweeney said there were some things we can do to keep well and enjoy Christmas, such as eating healthy, getting enough sleep and drinking in moderation. Making time for yourself, remembering it’s OK to say no or to ask for help, and having realistic expectations and not comparing with what others are doing, are all also important.
“Mental health doesn’t take time off at Christmas, and with all the extra stresses that can come with the festive season it’s very important to care for your wellbeing,” she added. “So perhaps the most important gift we can give this year is to gift ourselves with care for our own well-being.”
Stephen Mulligan from the Oak Healthy Living Centre said Christmas was the perfect time to reconnect with family or friends, for your own benefit and theirs.
“I know neighbours sometimes don’t talk the whole year, but Christmas is that chance where you can break that cycle and reintroduce that community spirit we used to be much better at,” he said.
Aidan Ormsby from Solace at the Arc Health Living Centre agreed.
“It’s very important at this time of year to support each other,” he said. “We have to remember we are all part of one community. If you haven’t seen your neighbour or friends for a while, just check in, even with a quick phone call, to check they are alright and OK and to see if there’s anything you can do.
“At the end of the day, Christmas is a time for giving, including your time. That is possibly the most important gift you can give at this time of year, your time.”
If you are in distress this Christmas the most important thing you can do is talk to someone. You can talk to someone you know and trust, but often talking to a stranger can be easier.
Here are some numbers for you to call if you feel you need to:
• Lifeline, counselling helpline – 0808 808 8000
• Samaritans listening ear service – 08457 909090
• Domestic Violence helpline – 0808 2000 247
• Childline – 0800 1111
• Out-of-hours GP – 028 71865195