Perhaps you have had a break up, divorce, split in the family, lost a loved one or experienced another type of big change in your life circumstances this year. Perhaps you are dreading the bank holidays, because the life you used to know is very different now and you fear how you will cope and spend the holidays.

The holidays can be a very difficult time when your life or personal circumstances have changed. You may feel the pressure to be “merry” when in fact you there is a part of you that may feel sad about what has happened in your life this year or perhaps you are somewhat fearful of what the future will hold. I wanted to reach out to you to give some suggestions on how to survive the holidays when you are facing them in a different life or personal circumstances.

Acknowledge your feelings

Your feelings are your feelings and you are entitled to have them. They will tell you about the meaning of the important changes you have had in your life. Even it is the festive period which often includes a lot of parties and being merry, you are entitled to have a mixture of emotions ranging from enjoying yourself to feeling sad, angry, or perhaps worried.

It is important that you recognise how your life and your well-being has been impacted by the changes in your life and/or personal relationships. Perhaps if you find it helpful, stop and write down how you are feeling.

Practice mindfulness

Be present in your body and mind. Take regular, even short breaks to practice deep breathing and focus on recognising what is going on in your mind (no judgement or trying to change your thoughts, just recognition) and how your body feels. Perhaps listen to relaxation music or do a mindful walk outside to gather your thoughts and just be in the here and now.

Remember self-compassion

Treat yourself like you would treat your own best friend. What would you say to your dear friend?

Suffering is a part of being human and, remember, you are not alone.  The chances are that there is someone near you going through similar feelings.

Be mindful of your feelings and acknowledge them.


Set boundaries with demanding family members

If you have particularly pushy family members, who may have decided for you what you will be doing over the holidays or who you will spend your time with, remember you have the right do what is good for you. Notice if in your relationships you notice a pattern of saying yes, when in fact you wanted to say no. If you feel pressure to do what others are expecting you to do, listen to your needs and set boundaries. It is ok to say “no”. If you feel that you need some quiet time to catch up with yourself, that is your right to do so.


You may have been rushing around so much that you have forgotten yourself. Think about needs just right now. What do you need to feel more grounded? Perhaps it is engaging in spending more time outdoors, doing yoga, baking, having a massage or a relaxing bath, or any other activity that is pleasurable for you.

The Resource Library has a Understanding my needs worksheet that can help you with identifying your needs.

Surround yourself with people who appreciate and love you

When big changes happen in life, they force us to re-think our life and adjust to the changing circumstances. Become active in connecting with people who you enjoy spending time with. This is the time to connect as it helps you to feel a part of something.

If you have a tendency to hide away and assume that people do not remember you, challenge that by getting in touch with people who have shown in the past that they care.

If you are spending this festive period alone, volunteering might be a good option for not only spreading the message of good will but also connecting with other fellow human beings on this journey of life.


Seek support

If you are struggling and it feels like you cannot turn to anyone, even during the holidays the Samaritans run a free support line. They do not ask questions about who you are if you do not want to share, they just listen. Their number is 116 123 (UK). After the holidays seek support for yourself and make 2020 a better year for you. You don’t have to suffer alone. Reach out to a professional to work through and receive support.