for better mental health

Christmas and mental health

Explains how the period around Christmas and new year might affect your mental health. Gives tips on how to cope and suggestions for supporting someone else.

How might Christmas affect my mental health?

Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, you might be affected by it happening around you. It's a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us.

For example, you might:

  • feel alone because everyone else seems happy when you're not
  • wish Christmas could move because it's bad timing
  • want to celebrate with someone who's struggling.

"...listening to other people's exciting plans makes me feel like an alien being, as I don't have all those wonderful relationships in my life."

The Christmas period could impact your mental health in other ways too. For example:

  • Your mental health problem might make it hard for you to spend Christmas how you want.
  • Difficult and stressful experiences at Christmas can make your mental health worse.
  • Enjoying Christmas might affect your mental health, for example if it triggers hypomania or mania for you.
  • It can be harder to access services, and some will be closed.

"I won't be physically alone, but I will feel very lonely. I probably should be enjoying "my family" [...] I try to keep positive and strong, but end up feeling terribly sad and overwhelmed."

What can I do?

If Christmas is a hard time for you, it's important to remember that you are not alone, and there are things you can try that might help. We've written this information to help you:

Feeling in crisis around Christmas

If you're worried about acting on thoughts of suicide, you can call an ambulance, go straight to A&E or call the Samaritans for free on 116 123 to talk. These services are open 24/7, including Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year's Day.

See our pages on how to cope with suicidal feelings and self-harm for more information.

This information was published in December 2019. We will revise it in 2020.

References are available on request. If you would like to reproduce any of this information, see our page on permissions and licensing.

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