Christmas can be one of the most stressful times of year - but it’s OK To Say you need help

Many people struggle to cope at Christmas.

Many people struggle to cope at Christmas. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

It’s said to be the most wonderful time of the year, but is it really for everyone?

Black Friday, turkeys, cards, decorations, parties, pantomimes, gifts, credit card bills… the list goes on – yes, Christmas is upon us again! With all the extra effort involved in making the festive season a happy one, Christmas can sometimes feel quite overwhelming and not very merry at all.

The Wellbeing team at Hertfordshire Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust has compiled some special advice to help ease feelings of stress and anxiety which are suitable to follow all year round - not just for Christmas:

Avoid social media – it’s time consuming and can have a negative effect, especially when everyone else appears to be having the picture-perfect Christmas and you’re struggling.

Do something for fun - even if you have a mountain of things to do. Set aside some time each day to do something you enjoy. It might be a walk in the park or a cuppa with a friend. Whatever you like doing, it’s as important to make some time for yourself, as it is to get on with all your other tasks. Doing some sort of physical activity and practising mindfulness* can be especially beneficial.

A problem shared - it’s tempting to push worries to the back of your mind, but sticking our heads in the sand only tends to make things worse. It’s far better to tackle your problems by talking things through with someone you can trust and seeking professional advice if you need it. Remember, it’s OK To Say...

Grab that thought – negative thoughts lead to negative emotions, so catch these thoughts. Check whether you might be seeing things in black and white, over-generalising, focusing on the negative or jumping to negative conclusions about yourself, what might happen or what others might be thinking.

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If you can recognise this is happening, you can get into the habit of replacing these thoughts as they come up with more positive and useful thoughts.

Stacey Turner added: “Christmas brings lots of demands, be it finances, personal circumstances, relationships, increased social life...the list goes on.

“Don’t forget to treat yourself! Put a gift under the tree for you, even if it’s tiny.

“Breaking thought patterns in order to step forward is vital, however taking tiny steps of self-care is essential to get you through.

“It’s OK To Say No and pause, you can only do what you can do and your best is enough and there is no such thing as perfect.

“Be kind to yourself, even during what can be wobbly times, there’s so much joy to be had, surround yourself with that.”

More advice is available from HPFT’s Wellbeing Service at for self-help information and a self-referral form if you’d like some professional support.