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The stressful side of Christmas….

It is the time of year when Christmas is approaching.  Christmas can be a very exciting and happy time for people.  It can be something to look forward to and something that families enjoy and cherish.

However, it can also be an incredibly stressful time for people. The pressure that people often put on themselves can be immense.  This can include things like buying presents, seeing people, hosting or equally isolation and loneliness. Stresses such as money, bringing families together, managing expectations as well as time with loved ones, can all bring about their own difficulties.

On top of this there has been even more stress to contend with over the last couple of years.  We have all had to negotiate our way through so much uncertainty and we have all had to manage so much stress.  The anxiety of the pandemic has been so high – and we are all still trying to cope with it.

As a result many people are feeling very run down.  As Christmas approaches some people are faced with insomnia or disrupted sleep patterns. Others are coming down with various illnesses and some with Covid19 itself. Many are facing isolation as a result of positive tests. Others are isolating to protect others. We are surrounded by uncertainty and worry.  This comes out differently depending on how people cope with stress. For many this can include things like depression, sadness, anxiety, lack of motivation etc.


Generally eating and drinking can also be a very difficult thing for people to manage at this time of year. And it is also something that people have struggled with throughout this year. Lockdown for example left many people eating and drinking in a different way to usual.  Many struggled to regulate and moderate, and extremes often lead to low mood, low self worth and at times depression and anxiety.

At Christmas time people often find that they can over indulge and this can bring about its own difficulties and emotional ups and downs.  But in addition to this for those in recovery it can be really hard to cope with Christmas.  Imagine if your living with anorexia, and being faced with the prospect of a full Christmas dinner, or if your bulimic and surrounded by loads of food.  Or contemplate what it feels like to be an alcoholic facing so many social functions where alcohol is the focus.  All of this is incredibly challenging.

It can also be a time when people can feel sad, upset  or alone.  If people have lost someone they love, or were close to, then a void is apparent and the pain of the person not being there can be extreme. Sadness can take over the happiness that people feel they ‘should’ be experiencing.

Grief can be really painful during this festive period.  Grief can also apply to relationships that have broken down, or perhaps those that are breaking down.


Throughout this year many relationships have undergone extreme strain. Many families have struggled emotionally and financially. The pressure has been huge. And now as we enter Christmas time there are even more challenges around us.

It is so important to think about how you can support yourself during this period.  Self-care is crucial during this time. Try and put some healthy boundaries in place. This can mean not saying yes to everything, or not putting too much pressure on yourself to keep everyone happy or to be ‘perfect’.

Keep an eye on how much you are doing, and try to slow down when possible. Take some quality time for yourself, when you need to.  Do the things that make you relax.  This is different for everyone. It could include reading a book, going for a walk or taking a hot bath. However you relax, make it happen.

Try to remember the word moderation. Apply this to food, to drink, to sleep, etc.  Aim for a balance in your life.  You don’t want to be exercising every day but then you also don’t want to never exercise.  Work for somewhere in the middle.  It is achievable.

Make sure you don’t bottle everything up.  Speak up and let people know when you are feeling anxious, stressed or when things feel too much.  Other people can help you, and they can support you.  In addition to this, don’t try and do everything by yourself.  You don’t have to do it all, and you certainly don’t have to stress yourself trying to do it all.  Remember how important you are, and value yourself.

Here at your counselling service we recognise the stresses and strains of this year, as well as those at Christmas time. Our service doesn’t stop for the holidays.  So if things feel too much and you would like someone to talk to then please don’t hesitate to pick up the phone or drop us an e mail.

(07590 663938 or

December can be a difficult and challenging time, as well as a wonderful and exciting one.  We are hear to help if you need us.