WELLBEING

What to do if you’re struggling this Christmas

Kathryn Wheeler
By Kathryn Wheeler,
updated on Dec 8, 2023

What to do if you’re struggling this Christmas

Mental health problems don’t pause for the holiday season. From self-help to accessing services, here’s what to do if you’re struggling

Though relentlessly jolly Christmas films and the ‘season of cheer’ may suggest otherwise, the reality is that mental health problems don’t suddenly disappear over the Christmas season – in fact, sometimes they can even get harder to handle.

According to a survey by the charity Mind, 76% of respondents reported that they have had problems sleeping at Christmas and nearly 60% of people have experienced panic attacks over the festive period. The survey also looked into the reasons why people may struggle at Christmas in particular, and found the most common reasons included getting into debt (41%), feeling lonely (83%), and finding Christmas stressful (81%).

It’s common to feel these things during the festive season, and there is also support available for you if you are struggling. Here, we’re rounding up a host of resources, from services to self-help, that you can turn to over the Christmas period.

Self-help resources

Self-help is a great option for those who feel able to take steps to support themselves, and is particularly helpful for problems like stress, anxiety, and depression. Taking some time out when you need to, to practise some of these tips, can make a real difference in how you’re feeling. So, what should you try?

  • Dealing with social anxiety over the festive season. Christmas can bring with it a very busy schedule of socialising, perhaps with people you don’t see very often throughout the rest of the year. With that can come some challenges for those who experience social anxiety. Follow these tips for navigating social anxiety during Christmas.

  • Try some mindfulness exercises. Mindfulness is all about bringing yourself back to the present moment and feeling grounded. This is a particularly useful skill for those who experience anxiety and depression, as it can provide a break for spiralling thoughts. Try these five festive mindful exercises.

  • Affirmations for Christmas chaos. Affirmations are short, memorable phrases that we can repeat to ourselves – either aloud or in our heads. These phrases are designed to help bring our focus to a helpful perspective, or to challenge negative feelings when the pressure is building up too high. Discover 50 calming affirmations for Christmas chaos.

  • Keep moving for your wellbeing. It’s very easy to become slightly sedentary over the Christmas period, and this could play a role in any drops to our moods. Getting outside for a walk (long or short, it doesn’t matter!) is a great option. But, if that feels like too much, a gentle activity like yoga is a fantastic way to get moving, building up those feel-good endorphins. Try these seven free yoga classes and resources.

  • Science-backed sleep tips. Sleep is a vital ingredient for good wellbeing, and with so many people reporting disturbed sleep over Christmas, taking steps to ensure you’re getting the shut-eye you need just makes sense. Follow these eight science-back tips for better sleep.

  • Explore a wealth of wellbeing advice. Whatever you may be going through, Happiful is here to help. Explore more than 10,000 articles covering a huge range of mental health and wellbeing topics by heading over to happiful.com.

Services

If you need more support over the Christmas period, here’s where you can find it.

If you don't feel you can keep yourself safe right now and feel you may be at risk, seek immediate help by:

  • Going to any A&E
  • Calling 999.
  • Ask someone else to call 999 for you or take you to A&E.

If you need urgent support, but don’t need to immediately go to A&E, you can also try:

  • Contacting NHS 111.
  • If you are under the care of a crisis team, get in touch with them.
  • Contact your GP surgery and ask for an emergency appointment. Keep in mind, 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 [email protected] – they're always open and are there to listen.

Other support services include:

SANEline

  • SANEline offers support and information from 4.00pm–10.00pm: 0300 304 7000.

Mind

CALM

Switchboard

The Silver Line

  • The Silver Line is a line, open 24/7, for those over the age of 55: 0800 4708 090.

Childline

  • Childline is a confidential line for children to call if they need help or advice about any topic: 0800 1111.
  • You can also access 1-2-1 counselling here.
  • Or send emails by signing into your Childline Locker here.

For more support, visit our helpline page where you can find a huge range of help for a huge range of mental health and wellbeing needs.

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