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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.

Many of us are worried about how the coronavirus pandemic may affect our mental wellbeing this Christmas.

Our page on Christmas and coronavirus has information and tips which may help. 

How might Christmas affect my mental health?

Whether or not Christmas is part of your life, your mental health might be affected by it happening around you. It's a time of year that often puts extra pressure on us, and can affect our mental health in lots of different ways. 

For example, if you:

  • feel alone or left out because everyone else seems happy when you're not
  • wish you didn't have to deal with Christmas because of other events in your life
  • feel frustrated by other people's views of a 'perfect' Christmas, if these feel different to your experiences
  • 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 festive period could affect 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 that normally help you. Some of these services may be closed.
  • If you celebrate other religious festivals or holidays, you may feel overlooked if it feels like Christmas is given special attention.
  • New Year may also feel like a hard time, if it makes you look back at difficult memories or worry about anything in the coming year.

"I used to get so excited – I guess you could say hypomanic – when Christmas came around. But year after year the expectation vs reality would be a bit of a comedown and cause me to dip into a depression soon after the New Year."

What can I do to get through Christmas?

If Christmas is a hard time for you, it's important to remember that you are not alone. There are things you can try that might help, such as:

If you feel unable to keep yourself safe, it's a mental health emergency.

Get emergency advice

This information was published in December 2020. It will be updated in December 2021.

References are available on request: email our info team.

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

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