CHRISTMAS is a time for family, for friends, for spirituality and for reflection. But for many it is a challenging time when that very reflection leads many people to think about the year just gone, lost loved ones and financial pressures that the season invariably brings.
Lifeline Kilkenny, the support organisation for groups working towards community resilience in suicide prevention and mental health is advocating a number of positive steps people can take in their everyday activities during the Christmas season to meet challenges in a positive way and to seek help, advice and a listening ear if they need it.
In launching its Christmas Campaign, Lifeline member Helena Williams who is a Samaritans volunteer said: “Christmas can be a wonderful time for families and the whole community but it may not be a wonderful time for everyone. We believe “Life is Worth Talking About” and our trained volunteers are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to offer emotional support to you over the Christmas Period.”
Mary Walsh of GROW Community Mental Health explained that many people suffer in silence, feeling very alone and that they are the only one that feels sad or anxious.
“We can buy into the media’s idea of a “Happy Christmas” everyone smiling all the time when in fact there are lots of people who have worries or are feeling lonely at this time of year. In GROW we say you alone can do it but you can’t do it alone” - Only we can make changes in our life but we all need help to do so,” she said.
Lifeline would ask people to consider the following steps to take care of their emotional wellbeing over the festive season;
1. Try not to stretch yourself financially, seek advice from MABS or your Credit Union around budgeting. Setting out spending limits for presents and food coupled with ensuring utility bills are looked after will make you feel better and add to your enjoyment of the season. Remember, Christmas is not about materialism, it’s about friends and family.
2. Talk to someone. It sounds obvious but feeling blue at this time of the year is perfectly normal for many people. Talk to a friend, family member or call the Samaritans if you think you really can’t cope.
3 .Losing a loved one, particularly through a tragic circumstance such as suicide can be really difficult at birthdays, anniversaries and at Christmas. Kilkenny Bereavement Support Service offers a caring, supportive service for families and individuals who are bereaved and a special programme for families affected by suicide.
4. Christmas is a time when family pressures and alcohol abuse can impact on families in a most profound way. Kilkenny Rape Crisis and Counselling Centre and Amber Women’s Refuge have been an invaluable support to so many families who suffer domestic and sexual violence in the home at Christmas. If you feel that you or your family is at risk, don’t hesitate to reach out for help.
5. Take time out from Christmas to do something un Christmassy! It’s a really good way to do something for yourself and not allow the commercialism of Christmas to get to you.
6. Try some simple relaxation techniques. Listen to music, read a book, take a long walk or just try deep breathing and doing nothing. Being mindful and aware of your own needs is very powerful.
7. Visit friends, visit the elderly and consider volunteering. It’s a great way of meeting like minded people and finding a social outlet. Christmas can be lonely on many people but it doesn’t have to be, there are many ways of meeting new friends in your local library, in community groups and by getting involved in community activities.
Christmas will come and go, if you do find it a challenge to get through or if the season affects you emotionally, please call someone, a friend is never far away.
Samaritans Kilkenny 1850 60 90 90 – email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kilkenny Bereavement Support Services: 056 7756538
GROW Community Mental Health Tel: 056 7761624 Email: email@example.com
Kilkenny Rape Crisis and Counseling Centre Helpline: 1800 478 478
You may also find the following numbers useful:
Amber Women’s Refuge: Acorn House, Lacken Dublin Rd Kilkenny 056 7771404 firstname.lastname@example.org
Money Advice and Budgeting Service Kilkenny: 056 7761777
Citizens Information Centre Kilkenny
Address: Kilkenny CIC, 4 The Parade, Kilkenny
Tel: 1800 222 121, 056 7762755 Email: email@example.com / firstname.lastname@example.org.