Looking after your Mental Health in Winter

SOMETIMES and for many reasons we experience feelings that can cause us to feel stressed and troubled, especially in winter.

Nuala Quinn from the Promoting Wellbeing Team at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust says acknowledging we’re finding it hard to cope with life is the first step to feeling better.

“If we encounter times when we are experiencing feelings and emotions that we are finding difficult to deal with, we can get support from those around us. It is as important to look after our mental health as our physical health.”

Some things that we can do to help make a difference include:

Seeking support: talk to family and friends and let them know how you feel. Talking to someone about how you really feel can open things up and help put you back in control

Give support: be there for others – offer support when you can as this will encourage others to help you if you need it

Stay connected: – it is important to make time for yourself, family and friends to connect with those around you. Too much time alone to dwell on past events can leave us feeling isolated, alone and unhappy

Acceptance: Learn to accept what you cannot change about yourself or your life.

Self-Awareness : Get to know who you are – what makes you happy, laugh regularly, try something new

Physical Activity: Get plenty of exercise – aim for 150 minutes a week or 30 minutes a day preferably with someone else – and get involved with local clubs. There are usually activities that suit most abilities

Avoid negative ways coping; Avoid things that can impact negatively on your mood – alcohol is a depressant so avoid it in excess.

Nuala adds: “There are many supports in our community that can help us when we are experiencing problems that have had an effect on our emotional wellbeing. The first step is asking for help. At times some people may experience thoughts of suicide and these thoughts can be difficult to pick up on.”

Someone who is experiencing thoughts of suicide may display one or more of the following:

Self-harming or a suicide attempt

Expressing thoughts of suicide

Being preoccupied with death

Showing signs of depression

Withdrawing from usual activities and from family and friends

Misusing alcohol and/or drugs

Making final arrangements and give away treasured possessions.

It is Important to recognise these signs in others and act by offering support and encouraging the person to seek help. If you are concerned about an individual, contact their GP or encourage them to attend an appointment with your support. The GP Out of Hours service can be contacted on 028 3839 9201.

The confidential Lifeline helpline on 0808 808 8000 offers support to people in distress. Lines are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and are answered by trained counsellors who can help provide help and support on a range of issues including suicide, self-harm and many other issues. Or visit the Lifeline website www.lifelinehelpline.info

The Samaritans can be contacted on 08457 909090. Samaritans provide a listening ear to those in distress.

A range of Self Help booklets is also available covering aspects of mental and emotional health and wellbeing. A range of local support organisations are listed at the back of each booklet. These can be obtained via your Health Centre or by contacting the Southern Trust’s Promoting Wellbeing Department on 028 37412889.