Christmas stresses: managing the day itself

December 19th, 2023

anxiety and christmas

Anxiety and Christmas

Christmas Day – the culmination of weeks of anticipation and preparation.

The turkey is in the oven, the presents are under the tree, and if you’re a parent of young children you’re sure to have already heard the famous question – “Has he been?!”.

That morning, social media is awash with everyone sharing their joy.

And you should be feeling the same, right?

The truth is that whilst Christmas Day is an uncomplicated celebration for a lot of people, for just as many others it can bring about all kinds of negative emotions – whether that be stress and anxiety, to feelings of loneliness and even anger.

Hosting the big day

The weight of hosting responsibilities can add a lot of pressure to a Christmas Day.

Whether that’s hosting a large family gathering or a more intimate affair, the desire to ensure everyone has a memorable and enjoyable time can be overwhelming.

The fear of judgment or criticism can intensify these feelings, making it challenging to fully enjoy the festivities. Will people like the food? Does your home look good enough? Will Grandma Joan have too many sherries this year and fall down the stairs again?

The truth is, more people than you think feel like this on Christmas Day when that knock on the door comes.

Give yourself a break by realising that choosing to host is doing something really nice for those that you’re having around and that not everything has to be perfect. The people who matter will not judge you for burning the vegetables or for having bought a £10 Christmas tree from Home Bargains.

Seven tips to help you enjoy the day

  1. Intentions: Begin the day by setting mindful intentions for how you want to experience the day ahead and how you want to engage with those around you. Set boundaries to protect your time and energy.
  2. Mindful movement: Christmas Day often involves a lot of sitting around so try and find some time to incorporate movement into your day so you don’t end up feeling lethargic and lacking in energy. Try getting out for a walk for example.
  3. Mindful breathing: Take moments throughout the day to practice mindful breathing, grounding yourself in the present moment and not letting the stress of the day overwhelm you.
  4. Limit screen time: Reduce screen time to be present with loved ones – minimising distractions and creating more meaningful connections if you are able to.
  5. Mindful eating: It’s not every day you get to dig into a feast. Savour the festive meal if you’re lucky enough to have one and enjoy it.
  6. Gratitude reflections: Pause to reflect on the things you’re grateful for, fostering a positive and appreciative mindset.
  7. Reflective closing: End the day with a moment of reflection, acknowledging the joy and connections you’ve experienced and perhaps also on the things that have challenged your ability to feel happy.

Feelings of loneliness on Christmas Day

The expectation to experience unbridled joy on Christmas Day can be particularly difficult for those grappling with grief, loss, or strained relationships.

If you’re already feeling lonely or sad, then the emphasis on merriment and everyone getting together only makes those feelings worse. In fact, it can induce feelings of anger because Christmas almost feels designed to make lonely people feel even lonelier.

Perhaps you’ve recently lost a loved-one or find yourself widowed? Perhaps you’re divorced and this year is not your year to have the children around. Whatever the reason for your feelings, remember that they’re valid.

Here at The Therapy Room, we speak to people every year who are dreading Christmas Day and want help on how they can best manage it.

If you feel this way, there are many resources you can draw on to get you through the 25th – whether that’s volunteering, planning exactly what you’re going to do to fill the day in advance, or taking part in Sarah Millican’s online hangout for likeminded people.

Remember that you’re not alone in the way you are feeling.

How can therapy help?

For those dealing with grief, loss or feelings of loneliness during the festive period, therapy can provide a supportive space to process emotions or find ways to commemorate and honour the memory of loved ones.

If you are unsure about seeing a therapist, contact The Therapy Room for an initial chat. This will allow you to talk freely and openly about the issues you are experiencing and allows us to recommend a course of action.

As Christmas Day approaches, prioritising your mental health is paramount and you should never feel bad for putting your happiness first.

You deserve to be happy.


Founder Jay L Pink Ad.Prof.Dip MBACP PC MNCS (ACC) established The Therapy Room to offer high quality, expert counselling and therapy services to people of all ages, as well as to couples for relationship and partner counselling and groups for corporate and family therapy. Jay’s commitment to anyone visiting The Therapy Room is to unconditionally respect values, lifestyle, background and beliefs, offering a discreet and professional service tailored to their needs.

Therapy is held either in-person at The Therapy Room in Northampton or online.

To organise a booking, please visit our bookings and payment page.