With the holiday season looming, it’s important to recognise that if you are struggling over the Christmas period, you are far from alone.
Whether it’s the financial strain that accompanies gift buying, the cold and dark winter nights or the reality of spending the holidays alone, there can be a range of triggers that might make the season feel difficult to manage.
Recognising that is a good first step! If you can, we encourage you to try visualising a healthy, happy holiday this year in which you can embrace the moments of joy with loved ones.
There are steps you can take to help reduce the pressures we feel around this time:
Be kind to yourself
- Prioritise what is best for you, even if others don’t seem to understand
- Don’t compare your situation with others. You don’t have to do what everyone else seems to be doing to enjoy Christmas – try staying off social media to relieve these pressures
- Make a list of the things that you need or would like to do to prepare for Christmas. By reviewing this list, you can prioritise and work out which things aren’t essential. As you achieve each thing, the rest of your list will seem easier.
- If you aren’t looking forward to attending a particular festive event or feeling overwhelmed by the festive socials– set your own boundaries and consider how it could be done differently or missing that particular event to protect your mental health.
- If you're worried about feeling lonely or isolated this Christmas, think of some ways to help pass the time. For example, this might be doing something creative or spending time in nature.
- Remember that Christmas is only a brief period of the year – these feelings won’t last forever.
- Allow yourself to just be and attend to your needs. For example, if you need to take a break instead of doing an activity or need some time for your self-care, do so unapologetically.
Make some plans
Think about what aspects of the season are difficult for you, and if you can make any plans to help relieve this:
- If you can't be with the people you want to see in person on Christmas Day, you could arrange a phone or video call, or try to arrange a visit around Christmas, if there is a time when it's possible to meet.
- Plan something nice to do after Christmas. Having something to look forward to next year could make a real difference.
- If you're going to be somewhere unfamiliar for Christmas, think about what you need to help you cope. Consider whether there are things you can take to help you feel more comfortable or an environment in which you would feel more relaxed.
Take time to communicate with others
- Let people know if you are struggling. By having a chat with the right people, you will ﬁnd that you are not alone in your feelings and sharing can help ease the pressures.
- You don’t necessarily have to communicate with the people around you - you could join an online community or contact a helpline
- Always remember that you don’t have to justify yourself to others. Even if you feel pressured to, it is important to let people know which situations make you feel uncomfortable and suggest how they could help.
Being realistic about what the festive period means to you and what you can expect from this time can help avoid disappointment and reduce the pressures.
If you feel like you need support at any time, you can reach out for help.
To talk about anything that is upsetting you, you can contact Samaritans 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
If you're experiencing a mental health problem or supporting someone else, you can call SANEline on 0300 304 7000 (4.30pm–10.30pm every day).
- National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK
Offers a supportive listening service to anyone with thoughts of suicide. You can call the National Suicide Prevention Helpline UK on 0800 689 5652 (6pm–3:30am every day).
- Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM)
You can call the CALM on 0800 58 58 58 (5pm–midnight every day) if you are struggling and need to talk. Or if you prefer not to speak on the phone, you could try the CALM webchat service.
Money and legal advice: