Aware's Karen Collins: It's healthy to ask for help at Christmas
Christmas can be an extremely difficult time for many - pressures to have the Hallmark Christmas with family, friends and gifts can become too much and the unrealistic expectations this creates can be unhelpful.
The volume of people needing support at this time of year and into the New Year is often higher than at other times.
It's really important for us all to try to have more realistic expectations of the holiday season and to focus on the things that will genuinely make you happy at this time of year.
Perhaps you feel lonely and isolated because you do not feel able to join in with the commercial pressure of being 'joyful'. Or perhaps you have lost someone close to you at this time of year and the reminder of that grief is painful.
Or maybe you feel anxious about the many social commitments that you are expected to attend. Whatever the reason, the truth is that you are not alone in how you feel.
So many of us struggle - it is okay to not be okay - especially at Christmas.
The #itsChristmasHELPME campaign, launched by Aware this year to reach out to the people of Northern Ireland that dread this time of year, provides some tips on how to maintain positive mental health throughout this season based on the Take 5 approach.
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And we hope it helps to remind us all to take a break, to prioritise our mental health and to take care of ourselves this Christmas.
Beyond the Christmas and New Year period, Aware's services are available to provide compassionate and informative advice.
- Karen Collins is chief executive of Aware