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Tisn't always the season to be merry..

Supposedly it's the most wonderful time of the year! but for many it isn't. For people struggling with poor mental health, living alone, on low income or living in fear of domestic violence Christmas can often be the complete opposite.

Watching adverts full of happy smiling families laughing and chatting at a table full of mountains of food you may feel your life is the polar opposite. Christmas can leave you feeling lonely, miserable or fearful.

Domestic Violence

Domestic violence isn't caused by Christmas , it is caused by abusers. The added pressures of spending longer periods of time together, financial worries, higher levels of drinking and drug taking can contribute to a rise in the levels of domestic violence at this time of year.

Christmas is not an excuse for violence and no one should be a victim of this type of abuse whether physical or emotional but it has to be acknowledged that Christmas can be a very difficult time for families where domestic violence exists.

If you are living in fear of violence there are several charities you can reach out to.

If you are in immediate danger of violence call 999 and if you can get to a place of safety.


Christmas Debt

With finances already stretched to the limit there is a temptation for many people to borrow more money to fund festive spending. In a recent survey for citizens advice it is estimated that more than a quarter of adults are turning to BNPL (buy now pay later) loans and and the proportion of parents with young children borrowing in this way is even higher.

Managed correctly these type of loans can be great but you should be aware of the pitfalls before you shop in this way. You can end up with late payment fees or marks against your credit rating if you can't meet the payments. Money Saving Expert has lots of guidance and advice here.

At Christmas time it can be so easy to cave into pressure and there can be a risk of thinking 'sod it, lets just deal with it afterwards" but is really worth it if you have to spend the rest of the year trying to get out of debt?

There are plenty of ways to make Christmas great without splurging excessive amounts of cash. The important thing is to be honest with your friends, family and especially children. Don't promise to buy the latest gaming device or up to the minute phone if it is going to put you in to debt.

Perhaps you can agree a spending limit with other family members, search for discount codes, buy 2nd hand or give hand made gifts and treats. Perhaps your guests could contribute to the Christmas dinner table instead of buying a present. It might be a difficult conversation to have but you may find others are in the same boat and are grateful they don't have to reciprocate expensive gift giving.

Check what you can afford, set a budget and stick to it Moneyhelper has a guide to help you including a budget planner and a savings calculator for next year.

Often people get paid early at Christmas time, this can be handy but remember you still have to pay your bills in January so ensure you keep enough put by.

If you are already struggling with debt before Christmas has even begun seek help from a debt advice service such as Step Change or speak to Citizens Advice


Manage the booze

Alcohol can play a big part at Christmas, it might be a tradition to start the day with a bucks fizz or champagne, but for some families too much booze can often fuel arguments or unwanted behaviour. Try to pace yourself and drink water or soft drinks in between alcoholic ones.

Try mixing up some delicious mocktails instead and the kids can join in click here for some ideas. Or maybe treat yourself to a hot spiced apple juice or a hot chocolate with cream and marshmallows for a festive treat


Christmas doesn't always bring joy

Not everyone loves this time of year. For some it brings up memories of traumatic events or someone they have lost. For others it may be the first christmas after a separation and sharing the children with their ex. Then there is the added pressure that you should be having fun because it is christmas.

Mind has lots of useful support and information for those who find the festive period hard follow this link to read more.

If you are feeling alone or low at this time reach out to someone either a friend or family member or an organisation such as the Samaritans or Shout. Check in with your friends and neighbours to see how they are doing too.


Lonely at Christmas

For many people Christmas can be a very lonely time. You may be distanced from your family either by physical miles or a breakdown in relationships or perhaps you have lost a loved one. You can even feel lonely surrounded by lots of people.

The festive period can often highlight and magnify those feeling of loneliness but there are things you can do to reduce the feeling of isolation.

  • Stay in touch - you may be physically apart but speaking to friends and family on the phone or via video link can keep you connected. Perhaps arrange a zoom call to connect a few friends or family members. Catch up, chat, maybe have a quiz.

  • Connect with people you may have lost touch with, drop them a text and arrange a catch up.

  • Keep a routine, get up and dressed, eat regular meals, get some exercise and go to bed at a reasonable time.

  • If you know you are going to be alone at Christmas time make a plan of what you are going to do each day, try and incorporate your favourite things. A luxurious bath, a morning walk or run, cook a delicious meal (or cheat with a ready meal) watch your favourite movies or tv shows or start a new book. Do some arts and craft, start a jigwsaw or relax with computer games.

  • Maybe use the time to plan some activities for the weeks, months or year ahead.

  • Perhaps you could volunteer to help others, you could become a telephone befriender for Age UK or help out with your local food bank or animal rescue charity. Find local volunteer opportunities here.

  • Use Social media wisely, although its a great way to see what eveyone is up to it can also leave you feeling more alone than ever.

Finally, don't be ashamed to reach out and let people know how you are feeling, people may assume you are on your own at Christmas through choice.

The Red Cross , Mind & the NHS all have some great advice for coping with loneliness .


If your organisation subscribes to our service Talk to a People at Work first responder and find out how we can be part of your wellbeing support. 020 3286 1545

We are here over Christmas and the New Year

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