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Why Christmas can make you feel stressed and anxious

03 December 2021 Blog
Community services Mental health
Christmas can be a stressful time without the added pressure of COVID-19, as some face high expectations from family, work, and the additional financial burden it can bring. Mental health clinician Paul Loseby, shares his practical tips on how to cope with mixed emotions during the festive season.

Why do some people feel stressed and anxious during Christmas?

For some, Christmas can be a difficult time for a variety of reasons:

  • Christmas is typically a time when families come together. In families with difficult relationship dynamics, the holiday period can be hard as these family dynamics – sometimes stemming back from as early as childhood – come to life again
  • for others, the holiday season can be marred by painful memories, particularly for those who grew up in homes where neglect or abuse occurred
  • where people have experienced loss of a loved one, the holiday period can be a reminder that they are no longer here
  • Christmas can be a lonely time for some. Especially this year when COVID-19 restrictions and border closures mean people are not able to be with family and friends
  • the holiday period can also be stressful financially for families. Buying presents, taking time away from work, and entertaining family and friends can all be financially taxing.

Coping strategies 

If you or a loved one are struggling emotionally this Christmas, you may want to consider the following coping strategies to make the holiday period more manageable:

  • take time for yourself (quiet time away from others)
  • balance family obligations with putting yourself first and doing things that are important and meaningful for you
  • recognise when old family dynamics are being acted out. Remember that you don’t need to play your old role in the dynamic
  • spend a greater portion of time with people you enjoy
  • enjoy food and alcohol in moderation
  • spend within your means - remember that love is more important than material things, it really is the thought that counts
  • the holiday period is a time of celebration and it is okay to celebrate. Remember to balance life out and do all things in moderation
  • consider using online technology to catch up with loved ones and avoid feelings of loneliness. Booking a time will ensure you don’t get missed in the busy period.


If you need urgent support during this time, please contact your GP, your local hospital emergency department or the following helplines:

Lifeline (24 hours/7 days a week)
Tel: 13 11 14

Beyondblue (24 hours/7 days a week)
Tel: 1300 224 636

Mensline (24 hours/7 days a week)
Tel: 1300 789 978

St John of God Health Care
Paul Loseby - Manager Youth Services WA
Paul Loseby is the St John of God Health Care Social Outreach Youth Services WA Manager with over 16 years experience as a psychologist, working with individuals, couples, and groups.