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Christmas, and all the festive lead up, can be a rollercoaster of emotions and overwhelming for many of us.  It’s a time associated with celebrations and warm gatherings. Often, being invited to social events and the pressure of living up to expectations can increase feelings of isolation, grief and stress.

Some people may start putting too much pressure on themselves about what they should buy or do for others while others might dread catching up with family because it may end in conflict.

Whether or not it is for you, Christmas is all around us, so it can be helpful to think about what this means and what we can do to best support our wellbeing during this time of year.

Manage Your Expectations and Keep Things in Perspective

Expecting Christmas to be perfect can be partly due to romanticised images of Christmas (from the tv and social media) which we can then feel under pressure to replicate.  Don’t put yourself under pressure to create the ‘perfect’ Christmas. Only spend what you can afford, do something meaningful for others instead, and decide to spend time with people who are supportive.

Give yourself a break, a tune in

There’s no point in worrying about the future or dwelling on the past and if you do find yourself doing this, be kind to yourself and take a break.  Give yourself a pat on the back for what you CAN do this year rather than criticising yourself for what you think you should be doing.

It’s good to set your own limits:

  • Time for yourself is ok, it’s even healthy
  • You don’t have to say ‘yes’ to every invitation
  • Sometimes we just don’t feel like it, so take a breath and give yourself a chance to be yourself.

Watch out for black and white thinking – rather than thinking it’s really good or it’s really bad, allow that Christmas can have both positive and negative sides just like any other time of the year.

Feeling connected is important but that doesn’t mean spending hours with close friends or family.  Taking a walk or just getting out and about can really connect us with the locality or with nature; a friendly nod, a browse at a shop or a bird chirping.  Check out your local community websites and bulletins to find out what is on near you, some of which can be free, can be a way to meet up with other people.

There’s a lot of hype about Christmas.  Remember it’s just one day.

Get Support  If you’re facing a difficult time over the Christmas and New Year period, it’s important to reach out and get support. It could be as simple as sending a text to a friend, making a phone call or inviting someone over for a cup of tea or coffee to talk about what’s happening.