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Challenges of the Festive Season

Although we had a great time at the December meeting we know from experience that this time of year can be difficult for many. Here are some helpful hints and tips from previous group discussions.

Challenges of the festive season 

Pre-Christmas stress  

  • Fake Christmas (enforced jollity!) for the previous two months spoils the real message of Christmas. 

  • Busy shops/long queues so no personal space or ‘me time.’  

  • Buying presents > overspending 

  • Writing and delivering Christmas cards and presents         

  • Lack of time to do everything > over-activity 

Coping strategies 

  • Avoid shops or go early in the morning, online shopping 

  • Create a space for yourself 

  • Delegate 

  • Keep it simple 

  • Selective blindness/hearing to divert attention from Christmas scenes 

  • Don’t over-commit  

Attending social events          

  • Social anxiety > self-isolation > no one to talk to about mental health 

  • Over-indulging (alcohol, food)

Coping Strategies

  • Try to avoid alcohol  

  • Try to cut down on smoking

  • Don’t over-commit  

Loss of routines 

  • Lose track of time...what day is it??  Disturbed sleep patterns may trigger hypomania, lack of sleep and alcohol > low mood.        

  • Difficulties getting up in the morning (no motivation due to break from work/volunteering/services being shut)  

  • Changes in the amount of light and bad weather > low mood, physical health problems due to viruses, bugs, Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) > everything is more difficult to cope with. 

Coping Strategies 

  • Structure and routine can help 

  • Mindfulness 

  • Plan some ‘me time’ that you really enjoy doing 

  • Motivation: having to look after kids, pets etc 

  • Be honest about needing to sleep  

  • Try to get the work/life balance right 

  • Voluntary work 

  • Continue to follow your medication regime   

  • Set achievable goals but keep it simple 

  • CBT 

  • Meditation 

  • Light box 

  • Spend time with pets 

  • Have something planned for after Christmas  

  • Have a little wellness toolbox with phone numbers of sources of support (formal and informal) 

  • Try not to give yourself a hard time about not being able to keep up with everyone else 

  • Switch PC off an hour before bed 

  • Avoid coffee after 3pm 

  • Watch a comedy on TV  

Dealing with family/friends 

  • Having to meet up with family you very rarely see > social anxiety / jealousy of others coping better than you / feeling patronised. 

  • Everyone wants to meet up with you, which tires you out or you may feel guilty for saying no. 

  • There are no family or friends around > feelings of isolation/lack of self-worth. 

  • Family stressed out on the day > arguments > bad atmosphere.

  • Missing members of family/friends who are no longer with us. 

Coping strategies: 

  • Support from other family and friends 

  • Have realistic expectations. 

  • Lay down boundaries. 

  • Take a step back to avoid clashing with family/friends 

  • Set a time (quality, not quantity), e.g., need to get home to see to dog/cat. 

  • Take a buddy along for support who knows that you may need to leave early/take time out. 

  • Decide who you are going to argue with in advance and stick to it (only one relative per year) 

  • Meet somewhere neutral: less stressful, time-limited, and less likely to argue in public. 

  • Opt out: self-isolate (helpful for some people but not all)   

  • Go away during the festive season.  



Crisis help 

  • Edinburgh Crisis Centre: Free phone 0808 801 0414, 24/7 telephone helpline offering emotional support 365 days of the year to people in Edinburgh aged 16 and over who use or have used mental health services and their carers. Text  07974429075 or email:  

  • Samaritans: 116 123 

  • Text “SHOUT” to 85258   (24/7 crisis text service) 

  • Mental Health Assessment Service (MHAS) Royal Edinburgh Hospital 0131 537 6000 

  • NHS 24: call 111  (24/7).  Website for information and self-care advice:


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