With the festive season upon us, we know that for some people the “merry” in Christmas may feel more like “miserable.” 

There’s definitely a high level of expectation around Christmas and New Year’s; we all feel it. The biggest pressure is to be the person that loves the festive season otherwise you’ll be judged for being a “Scrooge.” Pair that with the financial and social pressures at this time of the year and it’s a recipe for feeling stressed, low, anxious and more. 

As a team of people with lived experience of mental illness (and some who have trauma based around the Christmas period), we came together this week to put write some advice for this, and every other, festive season.

festive

Our festive advice for all

General:

  • You don’t have to like (or even pretend to like Christmas) 
  • You don’t have to explain your plans for the festive season.
  • It’s OK to seek support if you need it. Whether that’s a professional, family, or friends. 
  • You don’t have to conform to traditional holiday norms. 
  • Don’t call other people a grinch or Scrooge, it’s OK for them to feel what they feel. 
  • It’s OK to not be happy or cheerful. 
  • It’s OK to not visit church if you don’t want to. 
  • You don’t have to make resolutions. 
  • It’s OK to set boundaries. 
  • It’s OK to regift or donate something you’ve received that you won’t use – without guilt.
  • It’s OK to honour the financial budget you set yourself. 
  • It’s OK to prioritise self-care over appearances. For some, that may be a PJ day in comfort with a fluffy blanket. 

Food and Drink: 

  • Eat what you like. You don’t have to explain your food choices. It’s OK to indulge if you choose to. The keyword here is choose. It’s your choice however you make it. 
  • Don’t comment on what someone chooses to eat or their body. 
  • Don’t question someone’s choice to abstain from drinking. 
  • It’s OK to not drink, whatever the reason. You do not need to explain. You don’t have to explain your choice to drink or not drink. 
  • You don’t have to have the traditional Christmas meal if you don’t want to. 

Social

  • It’s OK to leave parties or family gatherings early if you need or want to. 
  • It’s OK to be selective on who you’ll socialise with. 
  • It’s OK to say no to offers of parties or gatherings, without explanation. No is a complete answer. 
  • You don’t have to visit family if you don’t feel safe with them. 
  • It’s OK to stay away from hot topics that can cause tension and disagreements. (Politics for example.)
  • It’s OK to take breaks from gatherings when you feel you need to. 
  • It’s OK to leave conversations that don’t feel respectful. 
festive

We hope that our advice for this festive season gives you food for thought. Please be kind to yourselves this Christmas and New Year. If you’re someone who struggles at this time of year, please reach out for support:

  • Shout: 85258 
  • Samaritans: 116123
  • NHS 111 option 2 (if option 2 isn’t available in your area, please call 111 and tell the advisor you need support with your mental health). 
  • PoetsIN: info@poetsin.com
  • If there is an immediate risk to life, please call 999. 

We wish you all a season of warmth, one where we celebrate doing what works best for us, rather than confirming to what we think is expected of us. 

Until 2024, 

Team PoetsIN. 

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