Coping at Christmas

By Lizzie Midgley-Peters, BA (Hons) Creative Writing

Christmas is supposed to be the time of year for endless joy and excitement, especially as a student. We have a secret Santa to look forward to, Mad Friday just around the corner and Christmas parties on their way. But for a lot of us, especially those of us struggling with our mental health, it can feel the complete opposite of joyful.

I know for a fact that I always struggle a little more at this time of year. I see my family and friends full of happiness, seemingly carefree and festive, and wonder why my problems can’t take a break just for this one month. Unfortunately, mental health isn’t that simple.

Not only can it sometimes feel impossible to crawl out of bed and drag yourself to yet another Christmas themed night-out, but once there, it seems unimaginable to bring up how we are feeling, or to ask for help, for fear of being a burden by ruining your friends or family’s fun. The pressure to always be having a good time is at its peak at Christmas, which can make any emotional or mental situation feel worse.

Above everything else, it can be really isolating to feel like you are the only one struggling at this time of year, so the first thing I find helpful is a little reminder that a lot of other people are feeling the same, probably even some of your close friends and family. Think about how much you would want to be there for them if you knew they were struggling at this time of year. They feel the same about you.

I always try to let a few of my nearest and dearest know how I’m feeling as early as possible, and that I might need their support at some point over the holidays. As scary as that might sound, especially if you don’t already have someone that comes to mind, remember that Christmas can be a great opportunity to start speaking to the people that love you the most.

Hiding your true feelings all the time is never healthy. It’s okay to struggle. You and your feelings matter. You are not a burden. You are not broken. Let’s start looking after ourselves a little more this Christmas, and take a step towards finding some support. It’s a time for love and honesty after all.

Support available at Christmas

If you need advice or someone to talk to contact:

Samaritans – call 116 123 or email

Sheffield Helpline (mental health issues) – call 0808 801 0440

Citizens Advice Sheffield (debt and legal advice) – call 03444 113 111