I first moved to Dublin from England 12 years ago, leaving behind family and a well-established group of friends. After a few months, I began to feel isolated and tired of my empty social calendar. I quickly decided that getting involved with new things was the way to go. I joined book clubs, running groups, volunteer groups and soon widened my social circle. If you find yourself in a similar position it can be difficult, especially later on in life, to get out there and meet new people but the effort is well worth it. In fact, increased socialising is proven to help alleviate symptoms of depression.
Although in small doses stress is good, and keeps us motivated, too much can become a burden. If your stress levels are too high it can cause problems including difficulty concentrating, fatigue, skin problems, or physical illness. Helpful strategies for managing stress in a positive way include:
Problem solving - make a list of the things that cause you stress, decide what you can solve now, and which are beyond your control, for the moment. From the list start to tackle the smaller ones, being able to solve small problems will eventually give you the confidence to tackle the larger ones.
Manage your emotions - venting may be helpful if done in a safe, private space, but might make things worse if done in public. Sometimes, it’s not worth the stress to argue. Give in once in a while or meet people halfway.
Set yourself limits - as a working mother I fall into a group most prone to stress. One of the most important things I’ve learned is to be realistic about what it is that I can do; there are only 8 hours in a day.
Don’t deal with stress in unhealthy ways - this includes excessive alcohol drinking, smoking, or overeating.
Mindfulness involves deliberately bringing our attention into the present moment and seeing clearly what is happening in our lives. Mindfulness meditation offers a beneficial way of freeing yourself from ‘automatic pilot’ mode and unhelpful ways of thinking and responding. Research has shown that developing mindfulness has a significant positive effect on anxiety and depression levels, and chronic pain.
After a stressful day often my first reaction is to reach for a chocolate bar but I never feel better after eating it. The times I force myself to go for a run or do a workout always pay off, with an increase in energy and boost in mood. It’s always hard work to get started but regular exercise is proven to have a positive effect on mood. Find something that you enjoy and just do it.
Get help from a professional if you need it
Most people wouldn’t hesitate to see a doctor if they were feeling physically sick and the same should apply to your mental health. In a life-time 1 in 4 people will develop a mental health difficulty. If you feel that you’re in a situation that you can no longer cope with, talk to your doctor.
www.meetup.com a great place to get started to find people with shared interests, from cookery, walking and art to simply meeting up for a coffee.
www.mindfulnessmatters.ie www.mindfulnet.org for information on Mindfulness.
www.workoutsondemand.com useful if you find it hard to schedule time for exercise. You can exercise from the comfort of home, anytime.
www.samaritans.org available 24 hrs a day, 365 days a year, to those passing through a personal crisis.
www.aware.ie for help on coping with anxiety, depression & stress.
Author: Collette Bird, Product Marketing Manager SilverCloud Health
 Enabling Recovery: The Benefits of Supporting Socialisation Report of a Randomised Control Trial. Ann Sheridan, Eadbhard O’Callaghan, Jonathan Drennan, Barbara Coughlan, Donal O’Keeffe, Jean Nee, Kate Frazer & Mary Kemple
 Mindfulness starts with the body: somatosensory attention and top-down modulation of cortical alpha rhythms in mindfulness meditation. Catherine E. Kerr, Matthew D. Sacchet, Sara W. Lazar, Christopher I. Moore and Stephanie R. Jones