A photo of a man in a holiday sweater carrying a gift.
Our tips to get you through the holidays.Image by: Movember
A photo of a man in a holiday sweater carrying a gift.
7 December 2022

Movember's festive season survival guide

4 minutes read time

Stress, loneliness, financial worries, and tense relationships can make the festive season a challenging time for many of us. If you find Christmas a difficult time of year, here are some tips to help you cope:

Eat well, sleep well, stay active

Our physical and mental health are closely linked. All the stress, anxiety, and disruption to our normal routines around Christmas can make us forget to look after ourselves properly. There’s no harm in having a few treats at Christmas but over-indulging in booze, rich food, and too many late nights might end up making you feel even more anxious. Being active, well rested and eating well doesn’t just benefit our physical health, it can also raise self-esteem and change our mood for the better.

Manage your festive finances

Whether it’s buying gifts, forking out for nights out or being able to afford all the festive trimmings, worrying about money is one of the most common reasons that people feel anxious and stressed around Christmas. And the rising cost of living this year means people are feeling more financially stretched than ever. To prevent money becoming a major stressor, create a realistic Christmas budget and stick to it. Focus instead on creating meaningful experiences. You’ll not only save money, but also avoid the stress and anxiety caused by debt that follows. If you are struggling to manage your finances visit the Money Advice Trust or call 0808 808 4000 for free impartial advice.

Put yourself first

Spending time with family or people you have a difficult relationship with or seeing other people celebrate when you’re not feeling it, can be very isolating. If you feel stressed and anxious at the prospect of spending the holiday season with family members with whom your relationship is complicated or strained, decide in advance how much time you’ll spend with them over Christmas. Either agree to see them for a limited time or not at all. Remember, who you spend Christmas with is up to you.

Spend time with people who make you feel good

Feeling connected and valued by other people is a fundamental human need. Both giving and getting support has been shown to increase happiness levels and wellbeing. Try to ensure that you get to spend some time with people who make you feel good over the holiday season. Make time to catch up and re-establish relationships that might have drifted during the year or consider volunteering on Christmas Day to help others and boost your mental well-being.

Support others

Giving our time to help others doesn’t just benefit them, it makes us feel good too. Research suggests that helping a friend also creates positive feelings in ourselves and adds to our sense of purpose and self-worth. There are lots of opportunities to in your local community during the festive season, fundraising for a cause that’s close to your heart such as men’s health or helping someone close to you with a practical task or emotional support. For further advice on how to talk to a friend about their mental health visit Movember Conversations.

Confide in someone you trust

Whether you’re worried about Christmas itself, having to spend time with people you find difficult, or financial stresses; letting someone you trust know about how you're feeling can ease some of the pressure you’re feeling. Men tend to use banter as a way of breaking the ice and connecting with each other which is important. But we need them to go beyond the banter and start talking about the things that really matter in life because that can help us to slowly release some of the pressure. Confiding in someone about a problem can help you stay mentally healthy – and getting someone else’s perspective can help you see a situation in a new light. It doesn’t have to be someone you know – moderated online communities such as Togetherall are a safe place to connect with others who understand what you're going through.

Call in the experts

We all have times when our mood is low, but if the feelings don’t pass and start to interfere with your life, it could be a sign that it’s time to call in the experts. If you find yourself trying to cope with extended periods of anxiety or stress over Christmas, check your GP website to find out what support is available over the holiday. You can also contact NHS 111 for support. There are listening services available over Christmas, such as Samaritans on 116 123 (freephone) or free 24/7 crisis text service Text SHOUT to 85258. If you are worried that your life or someone else’s life is in immediate danger, call 999 or go directly to the emergency services.