Supporting your Wellbeing this Christmas

by | Dec 19, 2023 | Health and Wellbeing, News

Have you taken a minute to stop and consider your wellbeing this Christmas?

For many people, ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ can actually feel like the exact opposite. With lots of extra tasks to do, increased social commitments, and obligations to buy and send cards and presents, many people can often feel exhausted by the time December 25th actually arrives. In fact, according to the Mental Health Foundation, “Christmas can be a joyful time of year for some people, through connecting to people they love and joining in with celebrations. And it can be a hard time of year for others, through feelings of obligation and over-commitment to social plans, disruption in routine or an increase in feelings of loneliness and isolation”.

With this in mind, we’ve put together some simple tips that can help you feel more in control, reduce stress levels, and help you take care of your mental health over the next few weeks.

Tips for Coping During the Festive Season

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Plan Ahead

Writing a ‘to do’ list helps many people to cope because it helps you to plan your time more efficiently. There’s a lot of expectation at this time of year for things to be ‘perfect’, and many people find Christmas incredibly stressful with not enough time to get everything done. We can find ourselves juggling numerous tasks on top of an already busy work, home, and social calendar. Evaluate the essential tasks, prioritise the things that really need doing, delegate jobs where possible, and give yourself permission to say no to the rest and cross them off the list. Most importantly, make sure your planning allows time for you to relax, rest and enjoy the season.

Remember that it’s not worth sacrificing your mental health in the pursuit of perfection.

Prioritise your own self-care by putting time aside for a hot bath, a nice walk, some exercise, or to watch your favourite movie. Do whatever you can that you enjoy that helps you feel relaxed and content, remember this is your Christmas too.


Set Boundaries

For many people, Christmas can be a time when difficult relationships are revisited and old tensions can resurface. As well as worrying about preparing and providing food and buying the best gifts, it can be a challenging time for people who have strained relationships with their wider family, those who suffer anxiety, or people with financial worries.

Put a baseline in place that feels comfortable for you – whether that’s setting a budget to spend on presents or letting colleagues know that you won’t be sending Christmas cards this year. Anything that you can do to manage people’s expectations and avoid confusion is beneficial to reducing your stress levels. Keep the lines of communication open with the people you do (and don’t!) want to spend the holidays with,

Think in advance about how you might handle difficult conversations and practice how to ask someone to change the subject if there’s a topic you don’t feel comfortable with. Why not think about some answers you could give if there are questions you know might be asked that make you feel uncomfortable?

Give some thought to potential easy group activities that everyone can get involved in. This will help to reduce tension and provide a distraction from any controversial topics. And remember that it’s OK to let people know if you’re struggling and need help, whether that’s physically or emotionally. And it’s perfectly alright to say ‘No’.


Make Time For Fresh Air and Exercise

Exercise can help combat stress by releasing endorphins (the body’s feel good hormone). Regularly exercising over the festive period can help improve your mental health and ensure you’re less stressed and more able to cope with pressures and demands.

Find an activity you enjoy doing – walking the dog, raking leaves in the garden, a family walk in a frosty forest, anything that gets you up and off the sofa and outside – even half an hour of fresh air and exercise is really beneficial.

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And don’t let the weather be a barrier to exercise, there are plenty of free online workout videos available for every ability level – or why not get the whole family playing Twister? If you fancy yourself as a mover, you could even learn a dance routine or have a go at a music and dance game on the kid’s consoles!


Working from Home at Christmastime

For a number of our customers, working from home is now a permanent fixture of their lives and it works well. For many, hybrid working between home and the office is also a normal feature of their working lives. Juggling multiple tasks, in different locations, whilst commuting during bad weather can quickly become overwhelming. We developed our Homeworking Online Training to support employees working from home and to help employers maintain their duty of care to all staff.

The following hints and tips are aimed more specifically at supporting home or hybrid workers, although all of them are beneficial for anyone, wherever you may be working at this time of year:

Stay in Touch

Keeping in touch with the rest of your team, whether that’s by email, phone or video call is really important. By nature, we are social creatures and home working can feel especially isolating at this time of year. Why not suggest a team Christmas quiz or drinks on video call if you can’t all get together, or even meet a local colleague face to face if you can. Wrap up warm and go for a walk in the fresh air with a hot drink and have a catch up.

Keep in touch with friends and family too, but on your terms. Decide what works for you and make contact, whether that’s by phone, text, or a face to face Christmas meal or get together.

Make sure you speak to someone outside your home at least once per day. Talking to other people can help support your mood and wellbeing, and the old saying ‘a problem shared is a problem halved’ is well worth remembering.

Take Yourself for a Walk

If you can’t meet someone for a walk, what’s stopping you from getting out there by yourself and having a quick walk around the block before work or during your lunch break? (Apart from the great British weather – although that’s what umbrellas and waterproofs are for). This tip is personally advocated by me. As a homeworker, I make time for a walk around the block before I start work whatever the weather. It’s become a highlight of my day as I cross paths with dog walkers and people walking to their place of work and as regular morning walkers we all now greet each other with a smile and cheery ‘Good Morning!’

You can also use the time mindfully to notice your surroundings and focus on your breathing, or listen to a funny podcast or some uplifting music while you walk. Even 20 minutes per day can make a big difference, with a brisk walk proven to reduce stress and increase concentration levels.

Keep Home and Work Separate

The boundaries between home and work have become very blurred over the last couple of years, with research by Aviva finding that more than 50% of home workers struggle to switch off from work or keep their home life separate from work. ‘Finishing work’ for the day has become a grey area and home and work life can quickly merge into one.

Building boundaries is an important behavioural aspect of mental health self-care. Some people set an alarm to signify the end of the working day and then ‘closing the door’ on the home office once you finish work. And if like many people, your work space is in your dining room or bedroom, even the act of putting a blanket over your desk at the end of the day can help signal the transition to your brain and help you to switch off from work. Making sure you maintain work-free zones throughout your home during the festive season helps you switch off and unwind from the daily grind.

Consider a Digital Detox

After work, disconnect from your devices and enjoy a screen-free home environment. Consider dedicating specific evenings or weekends to step away from digital distractions, fostering connections with yourself and those around you. During holiday times such as Christmas, resist the pressure to stay constantly connected on social media. Instead, allocate time for screen-free activities with family, such as playing games, baking, or enjoying a quiz. If you prefer solitude, use a digital detox to read a book or take time to indulge in some self-care



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The Benefits of a Digital Detox

1.Reduces stress.

2. Allows for a more positive perspective on life without the constant bombardment of social media.

3. Better sleep – anxiety, insomnia and increased stress have all been linked to scrolling social media in bed at night. The blue light emitted by devices can also affect serotonin levels and disrupt your sleep pattern.

4. Helps you avoid comparing your life to other people’s. Constantly checking your phone to make sure you haven’t missed a text, email, or notification can increase stress levels (and waste a lot of time!). Checking your social media newsfeed and constantly seeing pictures of other people having ‘the best Christmas ever’ can create anxiety, lower self esteem, and distract us from focusing on the present moment. Knowing your device is off and you’re not contactable by the outside world can bring peace of mind and a feeling of calm. Allowing yourself to be more mindful and enjoy the present moment is incredibly beneficial for mental wellbeing.

Don’t Forget to Treat Yourself

You don’t have to spend a fortune, in fact there’s plenty you can do for free – run a deep bubble bath, make your favourite meal, put your feet up in front of the TV – do whatever makes you feel good. Taking time out for ourselves is proven to reduce stress and anxiety, increase self esteem, protect mental health and lead to better relationships in the long run.Constantly focusing on giving and doing can leave us feeling exhausted and overwhelmed. So don’t hesitate to be a bit selfish so you can care for your own physical, emotional and mental wellbeing.


Further Help and Resources

If you need more in depth help and support, remember that the following organisations are available over the Christmas period and beyond, should you need them.

Mind (0300 123 3393)

National Domestic Abuse Helpline (0808 2000 247)

NHS (111 for general advice or 999 in an emergency)

Samaritans (116123)

The Trussell Trust (01722 580180)


If you feel that your organisation could benefit from help and support with wellbeing training, contact us on 01332 208500. We’ve got online training covering everything from Domestic Abuse to Menopause, Mental Health First Aid to Drug and Alcohol Awareness . As well as being experts in bespoke wellbeing elearning, we’ve also got lots of courses aimed at helping you to understand and prevent Stress.