Doing Christmas Your Way!

By Helen Walsh

We are heading into the sparkle of Christmas and so many people love it!  It is a break from the humdrum of everyday life and for many even putting up a Christmas tree and decorations gives you a new cosy environment to be in for the festive period, but that is not how everyone feels.

There are a huge number of people who just do not like Christmas, and before you say bah humbug, it might be worth considering their feelings and wishes during this time.

Umair Khan’s Photography

Christmas can feel like too much for someone dealing with depression, addiction, or a mental health issue. If you have been Ill, or someone belonging to you is ill or passed away it can be really difficult having that ‘first Christmas’. You might be missing your family if this is not your home, or there could be a trauma or memory you associate with Christmas that means you just can’t get into it. There are lots of people this year that simply cannot afford it, so how do you survive Christmas if it is a time you dread.

These are some things that might help

Establish boundaries. Do not be afraid to turn down invitations that might make you uncomfortable or trigger you. Be clear with family, friends, or work colleagues that you will not be joining them in their social activities this year, give them as much notice as you can but do not feel the need to explain yourself, unless you really feel there will be someone upset by your decision. Just be clear with everyone that for this year you are doing things differently and thank them for the invitation.

Avoiding Triggers. This can be difficult because there is no escaping the twinkly lights and decorations, but try and control your own environment as much as possible, and even something like a month’s subscription for Netflix or another streaming site will mean you are not bombarded with the ads and Christmas images all the time if you are watching TV. 

Take a break as much as possible from social media and maybe treat yourself to a new book or borrow some books/films from the local library so you have other ways to use your time.

Ask for some help! It is important to let people know you are ok if you are not joining them on the day. If you are already overwhelmed and feeling bad now is the time to talk to someone, there are many helplines available (see below) and having a chat with a non-judgemental stranger might really help or talking to a counsellor/coach to give you some practical tools to help you cope with the next few weeks.

Have your own day. Make a meal you really like, and have the treats but do be careful around alcohol as it can make everything seem worse, it might numb you out for now but you may not feel like that tomorrow.

Helping someone in need. This might be a way you can join in the spirit of Christmas but being around someone less fortunate might give you a different take on your own life even if it feels full of pain right now.

Self-care might mean trying to get more sleep, drinking water, getting out for a walk, putting on a facemask…it does not matter what it is, but looking after yourself will make you feel better and more in control.

Gratitude. Lastly, remind yourself of the things you are grateful for, do you have somewhere to live? Food in the fridge? Do you have people that care about you? Counting your blessings will always help you even just a little, and remember nothing ever stays the same and this too will pass. 

Take good care of yourself and if you are in any danger, please reach out to one of the helplines, they are trained to help and support you. 

Samaritans 24hours 116123

Childline 1800666666

Women’s Aid 24hours 1800341900

For more tips and information