Managing your mental health at Christmas

Managing your mental health at Christmas
17 December 2018

An estimated 1 in 4 people in the UK experience a mental health problem each year, the most common of which are forms of depression, stress, and anxiety.

The festive season is a time of joy and spending time with loved ones but it can also be one of the most stressful periods of the year.

There’s pressure to socialise with friends and family, more temptation to overindulge in food and drink and of course the financial strain that presents and celebrations can put on your bank balance.

Below we’ve got some tips on managing your mental health at Christmas, and some ideas for staying well over the festive period.


Stay healthy and balanced

Whilst it’s hard to escape the abundance of food and alcohol during Christmas, try to exercise in moderation where possible. Over-indulging on comfort food can result in weight gain, increasing any existing sense of lost self-control. Make sure your diet contains lots of fruit and vegetables, limit consumption of high-fat and sugary foods, and remember that alcohol can contain lots of hidden calories.

Whilst there’s nothing wrong with a little indulgence, recognise it as such and don’t eat or drink too much.

Make time for yourself

In a season focused on selflessness it’s still ok to be selfish every now and then. Doing something for yourself that you enjoy, no matter how small, can be a great psychological break from the stress of Christmas.

Make time for yourself in your busy Christmas schedule, and ensure that you also get enough quality sleep.

Share the Christmas load

You may appear to be the one tasked with organising Christmas – buying presents, preparing Christmas dinner, feeling responsible for other people’s enjoyment – but you shouldn’t manage the burden all on your own.

Try to get others involved and delegate tasks, remembering your right to just say ‘no’. If you feel your stress levels rising, you can always make your excuses for a few events. Let others know how you are feeling so they can see how they might be able to help.


Exercise is a great relaxation technique and can also help you feel more energised. As you exercise you release endorphins which calm you down and lift your mood. It’s also a great means of strengthening your immune system against whatever winter throws at it.

Try and work a few walks into your schedule, cycle to work when the weather isn’t too chilly, or start a regular exercise class in the run-up to Christmas.


Lorna McKinley, Team Leader of the Emotional Wellbeing Service (EWS) said: “As Christmas comes closer we know this time of year isn’t filled with joy and laughter for everyone.

“In fact, it can be quite lonely or stressful and can lead to feeling low in mood, anxious about going out or stressed with the thought of having to prepare for this time of year.

“If you are starting to feel the stress of the festive period or know of friends, family members or colleagues who may feel like this please do speak to a member of the EWS.

“We know this time of year can be difficult, we have a team of professionals in place that can provide advice, offer support or help to put the right techniques in place to help you get back to feeling like you again.”

The EWS is available to people from the age of 16 upwards who are registered with an East Riding GP. The service offers lots of different ways to support people with a variety of concerns from anxiety to phobias, to relationships breakdowns and bereavement.  

For more information about EWS visit You can also text TALK to 60163 or call 01482 335451.