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Feeling the New Year blues? These simple tips might help

This can be a painful time for many people but it might be a great opportunity for you to face your problems.

Image: depression image via Shutterstock.com

THE WHOLE FESTIVE period can be a very difficult time for people.

As well as being a joyous holiday, it also brings with it some painful feelings and reminders. Memories of past traumas often come flooding back, the sadness and anger about arguments is stronger and those we have lost over the years are missed that bit more on days we are supposed to be celebrating.

Extra pressures also make it a stressful time for many and for others, it is simply a reminder of how lonely they are.

If any of this resonates with you, you are not alone and what you are feeling is perfectly normal.

Clinical psychologist Dr Tony Bates, who spent more than 20 years working with patients at St James’ Hospital, said the New Year, in particular, can be a low time for a lot of people.

There is that feeling that if there are things in your life that haven’t resolved, it’s a kind of brokenness in my life I haven’t faced – I’ve been running away from it – and now I’m facing into another year of that. It could just be that I’m overweight or I still drink too much or I don’t see meaning in my life or don’t have a person in my life. You only being to register that it has actually been painful.

These moments, when you are at your lowest, can be the best opportunities to think about your problems in a different way. Here are some simple pieces of advice from Bates that might help:

Credit that you are here

I’d often say to people: “Why aren’t you six feet under? You’ve had a crap life, terrible things have happened so why are you still here?” Somehow they’ve survived, something in them wants them to live, something is just enough to keep them interested or keep them alive. It might be the dog, maybe the flowers in the garden need me.

Take a moment to realise that you are still here and that is an extraordinary achievement given the pain that you’ve been through.

Think about what has kept you here

Begin to get back to what is keeping you here and what it is that matters. It might be very simple – I just want to seem them finish that f**king Luas line or I want to see how Love/Hate ends.  Start looking at the things that are keeping you hanging on – not just what it does for you but where you’re needed.

Now think about doing those things more.

Focus on what you’re facing and what you’re running from

I always ask people what is just one simple step you can take to maybe move towards the problem rather than away from it. When you step towards them they shrink and they become more manageable – they don’t exert the same sort of dark influence on our lives.

That’s very important – that we are moving towards the issue that for years we had desperately avoided because it was so saturated in fear and shame. I’m not saying deal with it – that’s too big a step – it might take five years to deal with it but just take a step towards it.

Mindfulness, for me, is one of the ways I settle myself enough that I can stop running away and think about things that are hard and move towards them.

Be kind to yourself

It’s about reviewing something you’ve coped with that was one good thing you’ve done today. Acknowledge that.

Or realise you’re in distress in some way and say: “Be gentle, let’s take it easy.”

I often used to say to people in therapy, if they had a best friend in the same situation, what would their advice be.

They would say: “Would you just go easy on yourself, you’re fantastic, you’ve done so much and you’ve had a crazy week, of course you’re feeling stressed – ease up”.

Ask yourself what is one thing you could do to be kind to yourself or move towards where there is kindness in your life if you can’t do it yourself.

If you need someone to talk to, try:

  • Console 1800 247 247 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Aware 1890 303 302 (depression anxiety)

  • Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)

  • Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)

  • Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: Do you suffer from Seasonal Affective Disorder? Here are some ways to tackle it>

More: Practising mindfulness is a valuable tool for easing stress and anxious thoughts>

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