THIS week I had an opportunity to visit the offices of Mental Health Ireland where I met CEO Martin Rogan, Jill O’Herlihy and a number of people working in the area of mental health. During my visit I came upon some very good practical advice that might help get people through Christmas. While it’s a joyous time for most, it is a tough period for others.

I would also recommend a visit to where you will always be able to find some great contacts, useful advice and a warm welcome.

Christmas can be a challenging time for our stress levels and it’s even harder for those with mental ill-health. So many things that are part of our routines and we take for granted become disrupted by the change of pace in our lives.

Leaving all your preparations for Christmas until the last minute can cause unnecessary stress, but planning ahead can save you time and money. Making lists for jobs to do, presents to buy and groceries you’ll need helps to organise your thoughts, prevents you forgetting something (or someone) and makes it easier to stick to a budget.

If the expense of Christmas is causing you anxiety, you may find this advice from a money saving expert useful.

  • Make a budget: factor in everything in your budget, including decorations, presents and food, and see how much you have to spend on each.
  • Plan before you shop Know in advance how many people you will have for dinner, this will save you having too much or too little food. There is no need to expand portions just because it is Christmas – both your wallet and waistline will be thankful.
  • Shop around: compare prices in all the different supermarkets or look online first to see who is offering what.
  • Spend wisely: consider what you want to spend the most money on, also consider what you can make yourself.
  • Turkey alternative: look at alternatives such as chicken which is cheaper and easier to cook. It is worth considering other options.
  • Leftovers: only buy enough food to last you through Christmas day and St Stephen’s Day.