Coping At Christmas

We understand how stressful the festive season can be on your mental health. Many of us are affected by the season's expectations, so you're not alone. We've put up a list of top tips to help you get through the Christmas period.

Plan ahead

  • If you get panic attacks from time to time, write a list of what helps you during these moments and keep it with you.
  • Consider what you’ll need to cope if you’ll be spending the holidays somewhere unfamiliar. Is there anything you can do to make yourself feel more at ease? Is there a space where you can take a break?
  • Certain places may make you feel uncomfortable, such as if they remind you of difficult experiences. Could you make a plan to spend less time in that location? Or just don’t go at all? Think about whether you really need to do things if you are not looking forward to them.
  • Make a list of any useful services that you might need and their Christmas opening hours. You can find a list here
  • Consider some ways to pass the time if you’re worried about feeling lonely or isolated this Christmas. Do something creative or spend time in nature, for example. If you are in a hospital or a care home over the holidays, check to see what activities you can take part in.
  • If you can’t see the people you want to see in person, make a phone or video call to catch up with them on the day. Alternatively, if there is a time when you can meet, attempt to plan a visit over the Christmas season.
  • Try to plan something nice to do after Christmas. Having something to look forward to could make a real difference.

Look after yourself-

  • Top tip – set a ‘start’ and ‘finish’ time for what you count as Christmas. Remind yourself that it won’t last forever.
  • Set boundaries. This means saying no to things that aren’t helpful for you.
  • Allow yourself to feel your own emotions. They’re still real and valid even if they don’t match what’s going on around you.
  • Take time out. Do something that will make you almost forget that it’s Christmas by doing something that will distract you. For example, read a book, watch a film or learn a new skill.
  • Sleep. When it comes to your mental health, getting a good night’s sleep is crucial. Because of events that require late evenings at home and parties, getting enough sleep during the holiday season can be challenging. As the holiday season draws to a close, consider going to bed at regular hours to ease back into your regular sleeping schedule.
  • Try to relax. Others may say things like ‘Christmas is fun – just relax,’ but the truth is that relaxing can be difficult. If you’re feeling anxious around the holidays, try things like yoga, breathing exercises, or meditation to help you relax.

Get support

If you’re having difficulty this Christmas, you should seek mental health help. 

  • Call Samaritans on 116 123 (freephone). They’re always open. They have a Welsh language line too.
  • Text SHOUT to 85258. This is a free 24/7 crisis text service run by Shout.
  • Visit our useful contacts page for a list of organisations who can support your mental health or help with practical problems. 

If your life is at risk right now

If you feel like you might attempt suicide, or may have seriously harmed yourself, you need urgent medical help. Please:

  • call 999 for an ambulance
  • go straight to A&E, if you can
  • or call your local crisis team, if you have their number. Call 0808 196 8708 for Devon Partnership NHS Trust.

If you can’t do this by yourself, ask someone to help you.

Mental health emergencies are serious. You’re not wasting anyone’s time.


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