Wellness Wednesday: Christmas Assist

University of Kent Occupational Health and Wellbeing Manager, Brenda Brunsdon

The winter can be a difficult time for us human beings. Short days and long nights mean that we have less time in the daylight. This is made worse by the weather being cold so we’re not so inclined to venture out or spend time outside. Being out in the daylight is known to boost our mood and help us fend off depressive thoughts by stimulating our bodies to produce serotonin, one of our ‘happy chemicals’. Sunlight also helps boost the production of melatonin which helps us with sleep quality.

And then there’s Christmas. A winter festival that should help us relax, enjoy ourselves and have a positive effect on our wellbeing. And hopefully, that is what Christmas will be like for you this year. However, it also means a time when people spend too much money and party too hard. The intense atmosphere can give rise to arguments with family and partners; divorce solicitors know they will experience a spike in enquiries almost as soon as their services are open for business after the festivities. Professionals working in the field of domestic violence acknowledge that Christmas is a particularly difficult time for those living in abusive relationships as the extended periods spent within the family can lead to more opportunity for aggression and cruelty. In addition, those with no family or friends to celebrate with can find themselves being overwhelmed by feelings of loneliness, longing for someone to talk to

If you find yourself affected by any of the issues outlined above, you should know that University staff can access support 24 hours a day through their Employee Assistance Programme (EAP). This scheme is managed by Sodexho/Care first and provides easy access to expert help with both workplace and personal issues. You can phone Care first/Sodexho, free of charge, on 0808 168 2143 and get free and confidential advice from an information specialist or accredited counsellor. You may prefer to access services through their website. To log-in, use the username: uokent and the password: university. Their website contains information on a host of subjects relevant to how we live our lives and the challenges we face. There is even an AI interaction available for those who are drawn to technology.

The EAP is not just for Christmas and New Year; it’s there any time you need help; contact details are exactly the same. Please, keep this information handy so it is there if you need it.

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