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  • Coping with Christmas: six tips to get through the festive season

    Christmas is a time of year when we’re encouraged to celebrate, be ‘joyful’ and spend lots of time with friends and family. Yet for all the fun and festivities it brings, Christmas can be really stressful, especially if you’re struggling with your mental health, and the pressure to put on a happy face can sometimes make things worse.

    We are all different and what might be a wonderful time of year for some people can leave others worried and stressed. If you feel under pressure at Christmas, it’s important to remember you are not alone. Together with our activists and bloggers we’ve compiled some tips and advice to help you get through the festive season.

    1. Take time out for yourself There’s a lot of pressure at Christmas to do things that you might not feel comfortable doing, like going to parties, spending money on presents or drinking lots of alcohol. Make sure you prioritise your mental health by saying no to things you feel uncomfortable with and taking time out for yourself, to do something you enjoy or to spend time with people who make you feel good.

    YoungMinds Activists and bloggers said:

    2. Balance your use of social media Social media can be great for keeping in touch with friends or family who are far away or who you’re not able to be with at Christmas. But the pressure to measure up to the insta-perfect portrayals of Christmas on social media can take its toll, especially if you’re going through a hard time or there are lots of tensions at home.

    If you’re feeling overwhelmed by social media, take a break from your phone and do something you like instead – you can always come back to your phone when you’re feeling better.

    YoungMinds Activists and bloggers said:

    I try and stay off social media to avoid seeing everyone’s highlight reels.

    In the Christmas holidays, I would focus on self-love to

    look after myself when things were most difficult. Whether this meant doing my nails or simply having some time set aside to read my favourite book, little things make a


    I try and make some time for myself every day. I

    personally like to watch some Netflix with my family

    and drink some herbal tea. I find the tea and the interaction I get with my

    family soothing.

    Mental health and physical health are equally important. If you fell over and

    grazed your knee on Christmas Day, you’d put a plaster on it. So if your mental

    health needs a plaster, you’re allowed to do something about it.

  • 3. Remember it’s just another day The hype around Christmas can make people feel worse if they’re feeling less than perfect, are struggling with their mental health, or if the pressure of the day is getting too much. There can also be a lot of pressure to spend money on presents and going out. It can be helpful to remember that it’s just one day in the year and it’s okay not to be okay.

    YoungMinds Activists and bloggers said:

    4. You are not alone, and support is out there Lots of people find Christmas difficult, but it can be hard to tell as people often put on a brave or happy face. Although it can be hard to open up, talking to someone you trust about how you’re feeling can help ease the pressure. This could be a friend, a parent or carer, a family member, someone in your community or a helpline. Whatever you’re feeling, remember you are not alone and there are people out there who want to support you.

    YoungMinds Activists and bloggers said:

    You could organise something else for the day, like volunteer

    work or helping at a local event. First and foremost, you need to look after yourself,

    and you need to do that every day of the year. Have a think about some alternative things you could do this Christmas to make the day more enjoyable

    for yourself.

    I experience a lot of pressure around Christmas. I find it quite

    a difficult time of year. I find the pressure to be perfect and it’s difficult to not get wrapped

    up especially since mental illness doesn’t take a day off.

    Christmas can be wonderful but it can be a real struggle

    for lots of people. Whilst everyone may be getting excited in the lead up, remember to keep it in

    perspective. Christmas is another day of the year and

    you might not know how you’re going to feel. And

    that’s okay.

    Talking freely about your emotions can help you stay in good mental health and cope emotionally in the face of difficulties. Talking to others is an

    important step in taking charge of your wellbeing - making a small commitment to talk will help you keep mentally healthy.

    One of the biggest mistakes people make is bottling up negative emotions. Don’t

    bottle up your worries and feelings, talk to people

    you trust. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone, even if it is just a simple text

    message to make contact with friends and family.

    You are not alone! A lot of people find

    Christmas tricky and it does not mean that you are ungrateful or silly for struggling on one

    day in the year!

  • 5. Coping with Christmas when you struggle with food If you’re struggling with your relationship with food, Christmas can be a challenging time of year. All the talk of food can be overwhelming and the pressure to indulge can make Christmas upsetting or stressful. It can help to plan ahead for Christmas Day or any situations that will involve food by talking to your family or friends about what will be served and at what time, and anything you’re worried about – like the kinds of comments that you might find helpful or difficult.

    YoungMinds Activists and bloggers said:

    6. It’s okay to grieve, whatever form that grief takes Whether you’ve lost a family member, a friend or a pet, Christmas can be a challenging time, either because it’s the first year without them or because it’s a time when you remember how things used to be. These feelings can catch you unaware sometimes, and you may want to keep up your usual routine or you may not feel like doing anything for Christmas at all. It’s natural to feel a lot of emotions at this time of year and it’s important to remember grief can come up at any time, and that there’s no right or wrong way to grieve.

    YoungMinds Activists and bloggers said:

    If you’re struggling with your mental health, it’s important to know that help is out there. Speak to a friend, a parent, teacher or helpline. If you’re a young person in crisis, you can use our Crisis Messenger service by texting YM to 85258.

    For more information about mental health, finding help, and looking after yourself, visit find-help

    Everywhere I looked there was so much temptation and constantly hearing “it’s Christmas, just treat yourself” was overbearing. For me, it wasn’t as easy as ‘just treat yourself’, as the

    thought of consuming foods that I deemed as ‘bad’ made me feel guilty before I had even eaten them. I wish I had someone to tell me that worrying is simply doing nothing and it’s wasting my time. Try and enjoy yourself and indulge now and again with your favourite Christmas food - it

    won’t do any harm and you’ll feel better for it.

    I’ve learned that grief does not fit neatly into five stages, and nor should we be pressured to ‘move on.’ There is pressure all around us, and succumbing to the

    pressure can take a toll on mental wellbeing as a result. At such a time, taking care of yourself should be your number one priority. If that means having space away from

    everyone and everything for a little while, then so be it.

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