As proud charity partner of Ulster Rugby, Extern is encouraging everyone to TACKLE their feelings with six recognised steps which can help to improve wellbeing:

Take Notice 
Keep Learning
Lend a hand 


TAKING NOTICE to increase awareness, concentration, and focus on the current moment and the task at hand, has been shown to improve wellbeing and mood.

One of the reasons why we sometimes find ourselves struggling mentally is that our thoughts drift off to bad memories or things we regret or regret not doing from our past

Here some ideas to help reconnect with the world around you:

  • Keep a beautiful object near your desk
  • Practise gratitude
  • Try mindfulness meditation
  • Sit quietly in a garden or park
  • Listen to your favourite music
  • Take a break from digital devices
  • Single-task – do one thing at a time

As we start to improve our awareness of the present, we can start to train ourselves to notice patterns and recognise thoughts for what they are, ‘mental events’ that do not have to control us.

As well as improving physical health and fitness, being ACTIVE can also improve our mood and overall mental wellbeing, and decrease stress, depression and anxiety.

Being active is not only great for your physical health and fitness. Evidence also shows it can also improve your mental wellbeing by:

  • raising your self-esteem
  • helping you to set goals or challenges and achieve them
  • causing chemical changes in your brain which can help to positively change your mood

Being active does not have to mean going for a run. Do what you can to move your mood. Any form of physical movement can be beneficial:

  • Jogging. You could try Couch to 5k or your local parkrun.
  • Do some gardening
  • Try some stretches
  • Go for a gentle stroll at lunchtime
  • Join a sports team
  • Break up long periods of sitting
  • Take a yoga, Pilates or Tai Chi class

From reduced anxiety to clearer thinking and increased self-esteem when we see positive changes to our physical fitness or social life, being ACTIVE really can be a great way to work through mental health illness.

We all need to feel close to other people, and valued by them.  Having good relationships with colleagues helps us stay motivated and engaged. CONNECTING is about being there for others, talking and listening, and feeling a sense of belonging.

How to connect:

  • Chat with the Extern's Reach Out team
  • Join a team or club
  • Talk to someone and really listen
  • Organise a shared lunch
  • Reconnect with an old friend
  • Eat lunch with friends or colleagues
  • Find ways to collaborate
  • Plan a social event at work
  • Play with your kids

Evidence shows that connecting with others and forming good relationships – with family, friends and the wider community – are important for mental wellbeing.

Setting goals, being open to new ideas and continuing to LEARN throughout life helps boost wellbeing and build resilience.

Continuing to learn throughout adult life has been associated with improved mental wellbeing. It can improve self-confidence, self-esteem and maintain a sense of hope and purpose. It can even instil a greater ability to cope with stress.

Here's some simple suggestions to exploring new ideas, seeing opportunities, embracing new experiences and sharpening our skills:

  • Take on a new task or help someone
  • Get to know your colleagues more
  • Join a book club or your local library - all have free WiFi, computers for public use, events and ... You can also find newspapers, magazines and local information.
  • Add to your work knowledge with colleagues 
  • Organise lunchtime workshops
  • Listen to a podcast or read a journal article
  • Take a course
  • Learn an instrument or language
  • Set a goal and work towards achieving it

Learning improves our self-esteem, keeps us connected and involved and helps us adapt to change and find meaning in our lives.

LEND A HAND is more than just sharing material things with others. It’s about cultivating a spirit of generosity and actively supporting others.

Helping others and working towards a shared goal can stimulate the reward areas in the brain and help generate positive feelings.

Here's some ideas to boost your self worth and happiness by GIVING:

Volunteer with Extern

  • Express gratitude - thank someone
  • Compliment someone
  • Help a colleague with their work
  • Share your ideas or feedback
  • Make someone a cup of tea or offer a smilie - the simple things can make a big difference
  • Perform a random act of kindness for a colleague, friend or even a stranger

LENDING A HAND makes us feel good. Carrying out acts of kindness, whether small or large, can increase happiness, life satisfaction and general sense of wellbeing.

ENERGY - Try to look after yourself. Stay safe, respect your body and make the healthiest choices you can.

  • Try and eat with other people where and when you can so you get the opportunity to chat.
  • Sleeping can help ease stress, so make time for it.
  • Take regular time offline and spend a while enjoying the silence.
  • Try and get outdoors and into daylight when you can.

Every little step you take to improve your physical health, will help improve your overall wellbeing.

If you have found something helps you cope then please let us know. Leave a comment on our Facebook page or tweet us via @externcharity we'd like to hear your thoughts.

For more information

As one of Ireland’s largest charities, Extern provides confidential, non-judgemental emotional support for people of all ages who are experiencing feelings of anxiety, distress, or despair, and who are living with a mental illness.

Extern Reach Out

Reach Out by Extern operates a drop-in office from the Spectrum Centre, Shankill Road, Belfast to individuals whose lives have been impacted by substance or alcohol misuse, suicide, self-harm or mental health issues.

You can drop-in and see us whenever you want between 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday.

You can call us on 07442 533165

You can WhatsApp us on 07442 533165 and we’ll get back to you.

You can email us at [email protected]

Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS)

Based in Derry/Londonderry the pilot Community Crisis Intervention Service (CCIS), is a community-led initiative, which responds to individuals who are observed to be in distress and potentially vulnerable, and who may be at risk of suicidal behaviour.

The pilot service operates between 8pm on Thursday through to 8am on Sunday.

You can call us on 028 7126 2300


If you or someone you know needs help, you can telephone Lifeline free at any time. Lifeline is a crisis response helpline available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to people in Northern Ireland. It offers immediate help over the telephone if you, or someone you know, is in distress or despair.

Telephone: 0808 808 8000

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If you have seriously harmed yourself – for example, by taking a drug overdose – call 999 for an ambulance or go straight to A&E.


Or ask someone else to call 999 or take you to A&E.