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This Week’s Guest Blogger is Boris Mackey, the Community Outreach Manager for Rehab 4 Addiction, a UK Based addiction helpline

Mental Health at Christmas Infographic

Surveys show that Christmas is the nation’s favourite time of the year. The December holiday comes with expectations of warm fires, snuggly Christmas jumpers, and too much eggnog.

However, although Christmas is largely seen as time for relaxation spent with family and friends, it can also lead to stress and anxiety for a significant proportion of people. If left unaddressed, these pressures can have a very real negative impact on mental-wellbeing. 

Financial concerns, worries about feeling lonely, and anxieties about family drama are all among the causes of stress; most people can probably relate to feeling anxious about Christmas in one way or another. [1]

Despite this, if you find Christmas stressful, there are several practical steps that can be taken to reduce negative feelings, and therefore the impact on mental well-being. 

Although the season comes with promises of relaxation, in reality it can be one of the busiest times of the year.

Preparing for Christmas parties with work colleagues and friends, having long lists of presents to buy, drinking too much alcohol and more errands than usual can all mount up to become very time consuming. [2]

It’s easy to let all these pressures get on-top of you, and become stressed by the prospect of a never-ending to-do list. However, there are several ways to combat these feelings and ease the pressure on your mental well-being, including (and most importantly) learning how to say the word ‘no’.

Saying ‘no’ is a powerful tool, but it can be a difficult one to use. A lot of people struggle to decline invitations, worrying that they will be letting down their family or friends. [3]

However, agreeing to take up more errands, or attend another event, when you’re already busy is counter-productive. If you spread yourself too thin, you will have less time and won’t be able to complete your tasks as effectively.

Instead, focus on what it is that you want to do, and the parties you do want to go to, rather than what you simply feel obliged to do.

If you can politely turn down offers for things that you don’t think will make you happy, you’ll be less busy and will have more time to dedicate to things that you truly enjoy. Being overly busy can be very stressful, but by choosing to say ‘no’ to some things, you can begin to alleviate that stress. 

Being too busy can also lead to another common source of Christmas related anxiety. When we have less time and find ourselves more busy than usual, we’re more likely to see negative impacts on our physical well-being, which is strongly linked to our mental well-being.

Being too busy can make us over-tired, and it can also impact our diet and exercise routines.

Overeating and a lack of exercise during the Christmas period are common concerns, and can cause down-swings in mood, and negatively impact mental well-being during the Christmas period and after it.

If you, or a family member, have ever struggled with maintaining a weight that you’re happy with, this can be especially difficult to manage. This can contribute to a negative cycle: we eat badly when we’re stressed, and eating badly makes us more stressed.

The best way to break that cycle is to avoid it by steering clear of known causes of stress and pressure. Learning to say ‘no’ can again be helpful, as it can make it easier to manage our time, avoid causes of stress, and stick within a healthy diet and exercise routine.

Check out the infographic below to see more tips on how to avoid Christmas related declines in mental well-being, and make the most of the festive season.


[1] Loneliness at Christmas Statistics https://www.ageuk.org.uk/latest-press/articles/2018/december/christmas-loneliness-statistics/

[2] You can learn more in the article titled Alcohol rehab in Bristol

[3] Coping with Mental Health at Christmas http://www.awp.nhs.uk/about-us/the-trust/diymh/coping-at-christmas/

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