It’s the time of the year when everyone expects you to be happy and cheerful, to have a good time and join in the fun. But what if you just feel like hiding?

You just cannot escape the fact that Christmas is coming. Every second advert on TV and the radio reminds you of it, the decorations are everywhere, you feel pressurised to spend money on presents, and people are planning holidays and get-togethers.

If you are not feeling the Christmas cheer, know that there are many others who feel the same way. They just don’t like to talk about it, in case they sound like party poopers.

Christmas is not just about fun and laughter, though. For many people it is a time of reflection on things that have happened during the year, where they are in their lives, and remembering people they may have lost. These can all be quite painful, especially if the year has been a tough one on several fronts.

Here are some things that can cause additional stress at this time of year:
A lack of money with which to buy presents, cook a nice meal, or to go and visit friends or family
Relationships or family problems (often these seem to get worse at year-end)
Loneliness and a fear of spending Christmas on your own or with people you don’t get on with
Feeling down about the past and the coming year
Feeling like a failure, because everyone else seems to be having a good time

Here are some tips on getting through the next few weeks in one piece:

If you have very little money, give people vouchers/cards in which you promise to do things for them, such as babysitting, some house or yard work, standing in for someone for a shift at work, taking a family member to the clinic – or anything you can think of the people around you might appreciate. This will cost you time and effort, but no money.

If you have no plans for Christmas, find someone else who might also be spending the day alone, and do something together. Play cards, cook something you both like, go to church, watch TV. It will be better than spending the day alone, and the other person will be grateful.

Avoid going into debt to buy presents or fancy food. It might make you feel better for one day, but when the shop accounts come, it might make you feel a lot worse.

Do something for someone else on this day. This is the true Christmas spirit, and it will make you feel better.

Steer clear of family fights as far as you can. This is an emotionally laden time, when many people drink a little too much, and resentments or problems from the past can easily surface. Don’t be the one that starts this. Keep your head down.

Remember that the high expectations created of Christmas are not always based on reality. Many people work on this day, spend the day alone, are far from family and friends, or are caught in social gatherings where they would rather not be. You are not the only one for whom this might be a tough day.

If Christmas comes and goes, and you are still feeling very anxious, are sleeping poorly, or sleeping too much, or feel that you have lost interest in a lot of things you enjoyed before, you might be suffering from depression. Make an appointment to see a GP or the sister at the clinic to discuss this.


Read more here on what lies beyond 2022.

Tell us: do you sometimes feel down at Christmas?