Don’t be ‘blue’ this Monday

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Monday, January 20th, 2014
Today (20th January) has been dubbed ‘Blue Monday’ in light of claims that it is the “most depressing day of the year”, and while the science behind it remains to be proven, the Public Health Agency (PHA) says that is still a good opportunity to take time out to look after your own mental health and that of people close to you. Madeline Heaney, Regional Lead for Mental Health and Wellbeing at the PHA, explained, “After the rush and excitement of Christmas and the New Year, many of us see loved ones going home, normality returning and post-festivity bills arriving, which can make it a stressful time of year. “Regardless of whether there is any such thing as ‘Blue Monday’, it does offer a reminder to make sure we look after our own mental health and look out for our relations, friends and neighbours.” Taking time out to remember a few simple ways to protect your mental wellbeing at this time of year could make all the difference. These include: Giving and accepting support – being available for others if they need support will encourage them to be there for you too. Make time for yourself, family and friends – and talk to them about how you feel. Get to know who you are, think about and try to do things that make you really happy, and don’t forget to laugh regularly. Cultivate and encourage optimism in yourself and others, try to avoid over thinking and comparisons with others – learn to balance and accept what you can and cannot change about yourself. Exercise regularly, preferably with someone else. Look for and attend a mindfulness class. Mindfulness and meditation can teach you simple techniques that you can apply in your everyday life. It doesn’t mean going away to a retreat – three simple breaths is often all it takes to help you cope in a difficult situation at work or home; Madeline continued, “Almost one in five people here shows signs of a possible mental health problem, so the PHA recently launched a new campaign which urges people to talk about their problems. “While people may feel that January is particularly bad, figures actually show that the number of people accessing mental health web and phone support services actually remains steady throughout the year, so it is clear that we need to be aware of the signs of stress and depression all year round and to talk about it. “It is important to look out for behaviour or feelings that could indicate that you, or someone you know, is showing signs of stress or problems under the surface. More information on looking after your mental health and the support available across Northern Ireland can be found at She added, “If you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair, call Lifeline on 0808 808 8000. This is a free confidential service, where trained counsellors will listen and help immediately on the phone and follow up with other support if necessary. “The helpline is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. You can also access the Lifeline website at”
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