Put self-care at the top of your list this holiday season

Here are a number of resources for those who find the Christmas season to be a trying time

The end of the year is a joyous time, but for some people it can be difficult.

The Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions is offering advice for those who find the Christmas season challenging, noting demands of the holidays can affect one’s well-being, especially for people dealing with loneliness, trauma, grief, mental illness or substance-use challenges.

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To help manage your wellness this holiday season, keep these simple tips in mind:

1. Talk it out. Just because it's the holidays does not mean you cannot be honest about how you are feeling. Sometimes talking to a loved one, a trusted friend or a health-care professional can make all the difference.

2. Do not over-extend yourself. Prioritize your time so you can relax and enjoy the season with people you care about.

3. Beware of overindulgence. Because alcohol is a depressant, having a few too many spirits can actually dampen your spirit. Also, too many treats can leave you feeling tired and lethargic. Try to maintain your regular eating and sleeping habits as much as possible.

4. Stay within budget. Finances can become a huge source of stress. Make yourself a budget for the season and stay within it.

5. Practice stress-busting activities all year. By managing your wellness throughout the year through exercise, meditation, time with friends and family or other activities, you will have an easier time coping with the stressors the festive season can bring.

For added support, many mental-health and substance-use services and supports are available throughout the province for adults, youth and children. By taking the time to take care of yourself, you and your loved ones can have a happier, healthier holiday season.

Mental-health and substance-use supports in B.C. include:

• Stop Overdose BC: Stop Overdose BC is a provincial resource that provides information on harm reduction and combatting stigma, in addition to treatment and recovery services: www.stopoverdosebc.ca.

• Mental Health Digital Hub: This is a provincial website that provides information, services and education and awareness about mental health and substance use for adults, youth and children: www.gov.bc.ca/mentalhealth.

• HealthLink BC: Provides 24/7, confidential health information and advice. Call 811, or visit www.healthlinkbc.ca.

• Bounce Back: A free evidence-based program designed to help youth and adults experiencing symptoms of mild to moderate depression, low mood or stress, with or without anxiety. Bounce Back teaches effective skills to help people improve their mental health. Call toll-free: 1 866 639-0522 or visit www.cmha.bc.ca/how-we-can-help/adults/bounceback.

• Heretohelp: Heretohelp is a provincial website that provides information about managing mental illness and maintaining good mental health, including self-management resources and screening self-tests for wellness, mood, anxiety and risky drinking: www.heretohelp.bc.ca.

• Substance Use Services: B.C. has a network of direct and contracted services for people experiencing substance-use challenges, including counselling, needle exchanges, opiate-replacement therapy, and withdrawal management and prevention programs for adults and youth. Call toll-free: 1 866 658-1221.

• The Alcohol and Drug Information and Referral Service: Provides resources, support and referral information for treatment and counsellors throughout the province. Call toll-free: 1 800 663-1441 or 604 660-9382 (Greater Vancouver).

• Crisis Intervention and Suicide Prevention Centre: Provides confidential, non-judgmental, free emotional support for people experiencing feelings of distress or despair, including thoughts of suicide. Call 604 872-3311 (Greater Vancouver) or toll-free 1 800 SUICIDE (250 784-2433) or visit: https://crisiscentre.bc.ca.

Supports for children and youth:

• Foundry Centres: A provincewide network of integrated health and social-service centres for young people aged 12 to 24 years. Foundry centres are judgment- and barrier-free environments that bring primary care, mental-health care, addictions support and social services all under one roof - making it easier for youth to access the supports and services they need. There are locations in Abbotsford, Vancouver (North Shore and Granville) Victoria, Campbell River, Prince George, and Kelowna. Learn more: https://foundrybc.ca.

• Kids Help Phone: Immediate and caring support, information and, if necessary, referral to a local community or social-service agency. Call toll-free: 1 800 668-6868, or visit: http://org.kidshelpphone.ca.

• Child and Youth Mental Health Intake Clinics: Parents and youth can access community mental-health assessments, supports and services in B.C. through 100 walk-in intake clinics at locations throughout B.C.: www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/child-teen-mental-health/mental-health-intake-clinics.

• Youth in B.C. Distress Line: 24-hour distress line staffed by counsellors and trained volunteers who are committed to helping youths in crisis. Call 604 872-3311, or visit: http://youthinbc.com/

• Online Services Map: Interactive map listing approximately 350 B.C. mental-health and substance-use services for children and youth. View the map online: https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/health/managing-your-health/mental-health-substance-use/find-services-near-you/youth-mental-health-services.

Online supports:

• Booster Buddy: An Island Health app designed for youth and young adults who are living with stress, depression and anxiety to help support self-care. The "buddy" has practical, daily check-ins to encourage positive habits and support for more serious mental health challenges. https://www.islandhealth.ca/learn-about-health/children-youth/mental-health-children-youth/boosterbuddy-mobile-app.

• MindHealthBC: Vancouver Coastal Health Authority, Providence Health Care and community partners have created an online mental-health counselling program. If you are struggling with depression, anxiety, or other mental-health or substance-use challenges, please visit the website for information and recommendations for further support in Vancouver, Richmond and other coastal communities: www.mindhealthbc.ca/about-us.

• Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre: A provincial resource that provides mental health and substance use information, resources and peer support to children, youth and their families in B.C. Services are free of charge. Reach them over the phone, in person, or through email. For more information, visit: http://keltymentalhealth.ca/about.

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