4 coping strategies for getting through a difficult Christmas

No matter where you find yourself in the world during the month of December, there’s never any escaping Christmas expectations. Seasonally, this is supposed to be a time for family and loved ones – and we’re constantly reminded of how we should be celebrating, through films, adverts and songs on the radio. But for those of us facing a difficult Christmas this year, that’s the last thing we want to be reminded of. Keeping up with the festivities is harder than ever for those of us grieving.

Songs that should fill our heart with Christmas cheer, instead fill it with dread. Traditions and customs that we once completed with a smile on our face now barely get completed at all. Christmas now will always be compared with Christmas then. And although we can’t change how things are, it’s important to know that we can cope with a sad festive season.

If you’re facing a difficult Christmas this year, try some of these coping strategies for getting through it and remember; Christmas is over quickly.

  1. Embrace the sadness for a while
    Trying too hard to re-create Christmas the way you and your loved one used to have it, can make you feel more upset. Why? Because of the additional pressure you’re placing on yourself. Instead of forcing something that sadly no longer exists, try and take some time out to grieve during this time.
  1. Ignore the media
    The schmaltzy ads and poignant songs can bring back many memories. At times this may feel overwhelming and trigger some pretty intense emotions. (This is totally OK). But when things get too much, it’s a good idea to mute those telly ads, switch off the car radio and completely disconnect from social media. And if you still need an escape, consider celebrating Christmas somewhere where you won’t be reminded so much of home or the person you miss.
  2. Keep busy
    One advantage to Christmas is that many of us are so occupied with social and household tasks, we often don’t get a minute to sit and think. Embrace any activity that comes your way and make plans in advance, so you’re not isolated or dwelling on old memories. Whether it’s asking a friend around two weeks early or going for a brisk stroll after dinner, a busy mind and an active body is great for your mental health when facing a difficult Christmas.  Just remember to take some down time, too.
  1. Do something new
    If it seems you’re missing a loved one more at this time of year, it may be because Christmas is steeped in tradition and you’re craving what once was.  Whether it was the annual pilgrimage to your parent’s, or the restaurant you once frequented with your loved one – a Christmas without these markers of celebration can feel empty. Instead of yearning for past activities, however, why not try creating new traditions?
    Christmas is a great time to volunteer and there are always people who need assistance; helping out at your local Church or charity car boot sale is a great place to start. Plus giving back to your local community will remind you of have much you still have.


Although it can feel impossible if you’re facing a difficult Christmas, try not to let the pressures get on top of you. Voicing concerns or worries to a friend or relative before they build up can be a useful first step. And if you feel like you need additional support, see your GP.

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