The HSE has shared tips aimed at addressing seasonal stress over the Christmas holidays.

The festive season is a joyful time for many but for some it can be a time where they feel increased levels of stress, anxiety or low mood.

This stress can manifest in different ways including, irritability, breathing problems, panicky feelings or headaches.

The HSE Your Mental Health Programme has shared advice to help address the signs of stress:

  • Sleep Well: Sleep helps you to think clearly and gives you the energy to deal with problems. 7 hours is recommended for adults.
  • Breathing Exercises: This will help your mind and body get control of a difficult situation and only take a few minutes to do.
  • Stretch Your Legs: Physical activity will help you sleep, relax and feel better. It helps reduce stress, burn off anxious energy and feel calm.
  • Practice Mindfulness: You can learn to not react or become overwhelmed by what’s going on around you by doing mindfulness. Instead, you notice your thoughts and feelings.
  • Talk it Out: It can help to talk to a friend or family member about how you feel. Telling someone about how you feel can help you understand why you are feeling stressed and to get help with how to manage it.

“Everyone feels stress sometimes, it’s a natural reaction to when our ability to cope with what life presents to us can feel pressurised or sometimes overwhelmed,” Dr Mark Smyth, Senior Clinical Psychologist with the HSE, said. “The Christmas and New Year period are for many a time of rest, family and merriment but that won’t be everyone’s experience. 

“For some it can be a time of mixed emotions which can be additionally hard when you feel you’re expected to be joyous. 

“Over the Christmas period if you feel stress, anxiety, down or lonely the important thing to remember is you won’t be alone feeling like this.

“You may worry about not wanting to burden a friend or family member if you’re struggling. One in two of us experience a mental health difficulty, so it is better to share than try to and carry that burden ourselves.” 

The HSE and partner organisations offer a range of mental health supports available online, by phone or text and in person via the website yourmentalhealth.ie.

These include online counselling, stress control courses as well as breathing exercises and much more. For people seeking support please visit yourmentalhealth.ie or call the HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line on freephone 1800 111 888, any time day or night.

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