2017: 23 December – Have a Happy Healthy Festive Season

Dr Neil O’Brien, Clinical Chief Officer, NHS North Durham CCG

The Christmas period and January are widely recognised as the most stressful time of year as cold weather., economic gloom and an end to Christmas festivities conspire to place us under strain

Stress is the feeling of being under too much mental or emotional pressure. Coupled with mental health issues such as anxiety and depression, it is the reason for one in five visits to GPs.

As the pressure of this time of year builds it is important to look after your emotional wellbeing as well as your physical wellness.

Christmas can be a difficult time. For some people the pressures of worrying about preparations, finances, relationships with family and friends, added to everyday worries, can become overwhelming.

It’s really important to look after yourself at this busy time of year and to take the time to visit or call on anyone you know is experiencing mental illness. Your support could make all the difference to them.

Here are some top tips for staying mentally healthy and happy:

  • Be active – exercise helps you deal with your problems more calmly;
  • Take control – it’s crucial to finding a solution that satisfies you, not someone else;
  • Connect with people – a problem shared is a problem halved;
  • Have some me time – leave work at a reasonable hour a few nights a week to do something you enjoy;
  • Challenge yourself – do something new such as learning a language;
  • Avoid unhealthy habits – don’t rely on alcohol, smoking and caffeine as ways of coping;
  • Do volunteer work – helping people who are worse off than you will put your perspective
  • Work smarter, not harder – concentrate on the tasks that will make a real difference to your work;
  • Be positive – adopt a glass half full attitude instead of glass half empty one;
  • Accept the things you can’t change – and concentrate on things you can.

We all have mental health and physical health, and both change throughout our lives. Like our bodies, our minds can become unwell. Mental health problems might be more common than you think and the effects are as real as a broken arm, even though there isn’t a sling or plaster cast to show for it.

Spotting the early signs of stress will help you figure out ways of coping and stop you adopting unhealthy coping methods such as drinking or smoking.

If you are unwell, you can contact your GP or Talking Changes on 0191 3333300 to self-refer for support and treatment. There are also local services available on LOCATE, the council’s map of services, at durhamlocate.org.uk.

If you need urgent help, NHS 111 is available at all hours over the festive period.

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