While the festive season can represent joy, gratitude and togetherness, it can also be associated with family and financial pressure, loneliness, anxiety and tension. Even if you’re looking forward to the vacation, it’s normal to experience periods of stress or difficulty.
The holidays may cause a mixture of complicated situations and emotions, such as family and relationship conflict, anxiety around relationships, worries about food, coping with grief, or feeling that everyone else is having a great time and you’re missing out.
All these feelings are valid and okay, and you’re not alone.
It’s okay to not be okay during the holidays and do reach out for support when you need it. Our guide to mental health support over the vacation will help you to find a mental health service that's right for you, whatever time of the day or night.
Don’t wing it during the holidays – here’s some tips to feel better and take control:
Write down the days you’ll be surrounded by people or have a lot going on. Think through them in advance if you think they might be tough and identify when you’ll need extra support or breaks.
Identify the people and resources you want to use for support. Talk with these people beforehand or investigate a resource to help you define strategies for coping.
Set your intentions: Whether it’s sleep, how you eat, how much you drink, where exercise plays a role, or whether you engage in certain conversations, set your intentions in advance so you can feel in control in the moment. This approach can be generalised for the Christmas vacation or you can do this on a day-to-day or event-by-event basis.
Take time to develop a list of coping skills that you know will work for you and think carefully about when you’ll use them:
Take time to get support from people who understand your experiences
Take a nap
Go for a walk alone in a favourite location or walk with someone who helps you feel better
Plan to meditate in a way that works for you and will help you to feel calm and gain perspective.
Remember to allow yourself to be in the moment.
Rather than comparing your experiences, feelings and relationships to others’, allow yourself to be present in your life without judgement.
Be realistic about the vacation and plan ahead if you think you might experience complicated emotions.
If you feel like you need a safe space to talk with others who understand, try Togetherall; it’s a free, safe anonymous online community where you can give and get support from others, just register with your Oxford email.
Find full details of welfare and wellbeing support over the Christmas vacation in our guide.
Article adapted from original content by the Chief Clinical Officer of Togetherall, Dr. Ben Locke.