While many people are excited about the upcoming Christmas holidays, quite a few of us may feel down since this holiday season will be pretty different from what we are used to.
In the run-up to the holidays, COVID-style, the Mercury talked to Christa Daku, executive director of Envision Counselling and Support Centre, about mental health tips and resources.
"One of the biggest things is to keep an eye out for those that we love. If we see that they are isolating or having difficulties, it's really important to just have a listening ear, and then find the support that's needed," Daku said.
Envision has a variety of programs that help people on a regular basis. But Daku said that if residents feel off and may need some help, the best option would be utilizing their walk-in program.
"One of the main programs for individuals that are experiencing a few difficulties in their lives that may want immediate support is to try to reach out to our walk-in program, that's been in operation about a year and a half now. We offer it in Weyburn and Estevan," Daku said.
Typically people phone in and book a time in the morning to ensure that they get a spot, and there is no mandate to that program.
"Anybody who is experiencing difficulties can reach out, and the counsellor will have a session with them," Daku said.
The Envision centres will be closed between Dec. 24 and Jan. 4 to allow the staff to have a little break.
If people need help or experience difficulties during that time, they may call 811 for mental health support or 211 on the Internet for other available resources.
"Those are two alternative ways to reach out for some support," Daku said. "We will be back after the Christmas break, but in the meantime, it's important to have support set up for people as well. And those are provincial supports that are open 24/7."
Besides, Daku pointed out that just having peer support is very important. And it is also vital to keep an eye out for particular signs.
"If there's been a sudden change in someone's behaviour and they are becoming blue and depressed, just not having their typical personality that they display on a regular basis, it's important to ask questions. Are they OK? Dot they need some support?
"And I think those of us in society that are feeling relatively healthy during this time, it's important to take this initiative to reach out to those that may be isolated."
Even if an in-person meeting is not an option these holidays, people should consider setting up a video or a phone call with their loved ones on Christmas day, on New Year's Eve or any other time.
"We have technology at our hands now, really accessible, and I think it's just important to slow down a little bit and pay attention to those in our circle that we love, and give them a little bit of time."
Daku also gave some tips as to how people can keep themselves in good mental shape through the holidays if they start feeling a bit down.
"Everybody has those things in their lives that have the potential to make them feel happy, so they should draw on those," Daku said.
Whether it be watching a funny movie, reading a good book, walking a dog or reaching out to a loved one, these things keep us positive.
Relying on our strengths is another important step. Physical activity is also very important for mental health.
"Something that I find that makes people feel good about themselves is doing something for someone else. If we get a snowfall, is it possible to shovel your neighbour's driveway? It makes us all feel good to be able to give back," Daku concluded.
Envision's schedule, walk-in program and updates can be found on their website at www.envisioncounsellingcentre.com.