Published on
You are here:

Top tips for Christmas 2022

mental health at Christmas

Tips to support mental health at Christmas

While many of us enjoy the Christmas festivities, some veterans with mental health issues can find the intensity of family get-togethers, shopping and parties claustrophobic and overwhelming, while some tell us that despite being surrounded by friends and family at Christmas, they still feel alone.

The noise, the chaos, the socialising can be a trigger for traumatic memories. For veteran, Garry, who struggles with hypervigilience, socialising and even leaving the house can be difficult.

Garry said, "Going to the shops is particularly difficult. I get all sweaty, anxious, that sort of stuff. I've missed a lot of social functions because I don't feel I can integrate with people." Read Garry's full story here.

If you or anyone you know are finding things stressful and overwhelming, our specialist clinical psychologists have put together the following seven steps you can take to help make the festive period easier.

Seven tips to help you over Christmas

1. Stay connected with friends and family

Maintaining that social connection with friends and family is so important to ward off low moods and loneliness.

If you can't visit family and friends in person, make use of telephone, email and social media.

2. Remember your medication

Christmas can be a busy and hectic time of year. It's easy to lose track of time, but it's really important to remember to take your prescribed medication.

3. Do something enjoyable or relaxing

Even if you find yourself stuck indoors for part of the Christmas period, spend time doing something you enjoy.

For instance, reading a book, painting, sketching, taking photos, or tackling puzzles and brain teasers.

When it all feels too much, do things that soothe you.

Take a bath, drink hot chocolate, spray your favourite scents around the house.

Or you can try one of the music playlists we've created to help you relax and unwind, on the Combat Stress Spotify channel.

4. Get plenty of fresh air

Regularly getting some fresh air, whether that's by going for a daily walk, running, cycling, or even just cracking open a window, can have many health benefits.

These include renewed energy and mental focus, as well as lowering high blood pressure and heart rate.

5. Pay it back

Helping others can feel rewarding.

Christmas, and indeed the whole winter season, can be a difficult time for some.

Reach out to family members, friends and neighbours who may be lonely or vulnerable.

You could even check local volunteer services to see if there's a way you can help out.

6. Find a balance with festive food and drink

We all love indulging ourselves at Christmas, but too much snacking, sweets, caffeine and alcohol can have an adverse effect on your body and mind.

Try and maintain some balance.

Getting your five-a-day of fruit and vegetables (it doesn't have to be sprouts!) will help feed a healthier body and mind.

Trying not to have coffee or an alcoholic drink three hours before bedtime can improve your sleep.

7. It's good to talk

If you find the festive period difficult, confide in a friend or family member, or reach out to a mental health service.

Veterans and their loved ones can contact the Combat Stress 24-hour Helpline free on 0800 138 1619

You can also text our Helpline on 07537 173 683 or email

Our Helpline will be available throughout the Christmas period - should you need to talk.

Please, don't struggle alone.