0191 490 9301

The Pressure To Have “The Perfect Christmas” Leaves One In 10 Of Us Feeling Unable To Cope

There can be a lot of pressure around Christmas and the festive holidays to behave a certain way, which may be difficult if we are struggling with our mental health. Christmas can be the most wonderful time of year but for many, it can make existing problems worse, and add new ones. For people who are in recovery from addiction, the increase in temptation at this time of year can be extremely difficult to deal with. Society drums the idea into us that Christmas is a time of joy, laughter, cheerfulness and celebration. For people who struggle with depression, however, the constant reminder that you should be happy can make you feel even worse. People with social anxiety disorder may find the prospect of having to make an effort to see people, in person or over video, overwhelming. There’s no doubt about it; Christmas can be stressful. Cooking, buying presents, keeping children entertained, decorating your home, cleaning up after family gatherings – the list of tasks is endless. This time of year can be overwhelming and exhausting with research by mental health charity Mind finding the pressure to have “the perfect Christmas” leaves one in 10 of us feeling unable to cope.

You might be struggling this year for the first time. Or you may have found Christmas difficult in the past, and you’re dreading it again this year. You may also enjoy Christmas, but not be able to celebrate it how you’d like to. Or you might find some parts enjoyable, but other parts stressful. If you particularly struggle with your mental health during the holidays, it is important to put yourself first and tackle one thing at a time.

Here are some things to consider when looking after your mental health, whether or not you celebrate Christmas:

Prioritise what is best for you! Remember self-care is not selfish. Although looking out for your friends and loved ones is important, looking after yourself is also crucial.

Plan ahead! Are there certain elements of the holidays which you find particularly difficult? How have you dealt with this in the past? What works for you? Are you worried about feeling lonely? What activities or plans can you make to help pass the time?

Set your boundaries! Saying no to things that are not helpful for you is ok and remember to take time out when needed!

Talk! Let people know if you are struggling. Join an online community, sometimes it’s easier to talk to someone who isn’t so close to you, Mind’s online community Side by Side is a safe place to connect with others who understand what you’re going through.

Get support! If you’re struggling this holiday season, you may want to find support for your mental health. A list of helplines can be found at the end of this blog.

Supporting others at Christmas

Often, the true meaning of Christmas is forgotten and the act of giving and receiving gifts can replace the true spirit of the holiday. Sometimes, the kindest gift we can give ourselves and others is to agree not to exchange gifts reducing the stress and unfair obligation on both yourself and others. If there are people in your life who find Christmas difficult, the following tips may help you to support them:

Ask Twice! “Ok” is one of the most commonly used words in the world. If someone says “I’m ok”, but you sense something isn’t quite right, ask again.

Look out for the warning signs!

  • Excessive sadness or moodiness
  • Sudden calmness
  • Changes in personality / appearance
  • Dangerous or self-harm behaviour
  • Recent trauma
  • Making Preparations / threatening suicide

Listen! It can take great courage for someone to open up and if someone is ready to talk, the best thing you can do if you feel able to is listen and accept their feelings. Mentalhealth.org advises listeners to lead a discussion at their own pace and not to second guess the feelings of those suffering.

Look after yourself too! Taking care of an ill family member or friend can be stressful, and you may need emotional support, too.

There are so many factors which means Christmas for those of us who suffer with our mental health cannot always be the most wonderful time of year. Mental ill-health doesn’t discriminate and it certainly doesn’t follow the rules of our calendar. Check on your friends and family this holiday season and if you are struggling, please ask for help.


If you don’t feel you can keep yourself safe right now, seek immediate help:

  • Go to any Accident & Emergency (A&E) department.
  • Call 999 and ask for an ambulance to take you to A&E.
  • Ask someone else to call 999 for you or take you to A&E.

If you need urgent support but don’t want to go to A&E, you could:

  • Contact NHS 111.
  • Contact your local crisis team (CRHT), if you’re under their care.
  • Contact your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment. Note: GP surgeries are closed on Bank Holidays but, if you phone your nearest surgery, the answering machines will usually give you advice on how to get hold of an out-of-hours doctor.
  • Call Samaritans for free on 116 123 or email them on jo@samaritans.org – they’re always open and are there to listen.

If you need advice or someone impartial to talk to, the services below are offering support throughout the festive period:

For mental health crisis support, you can ring the SANEline on 0300 304 7000 between 4:30pm-10:30pm, each evening.

For general mental health help, you can access help via text from Shout. Simply text SHOUT to 85258 for 24/7 crisis support. This service is available for free on major mobile networks, for anyone in crisis anytime, anywhere.

Childline is a confidential line offering support for young people under 19 (and their relatives), offering advice about any topic. You can speak to a counsellor by calling 0800 1111 or via one to one chat between 7:30am and 3:30am every day.

The Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM) is a helpline for men and is open from 5pm-midnight on 0800 58 58 58. The CALM webchat is also open during these hours.

Switchboard is a line for LGBT+ support: 0300 330 0630. The helpline is open 10am-10pm 365 days a year. Or you can email: chris@switchboard.lgbt

The Silver Line is a line, open 24/7, for those over the age of 55 offering information, advice and friendship: 0800 4708 090.

For eating disorder support, contact the Beat Helpline on 0808 801 0677. The phone line will be open 4-8pm from 24 December to 1 January. Sometimes their lines are busy so, if you can’t get through immediately, please try again or try their one-to-one webchat.

The national Rape Crisis helpline is open today and every day 12pm-2.30pm and 7pm-9:30pm. The helpline offers confidential emotional support, information and referral details.

Write A Comment