According to a survey by the American Psychological Association (APA), almost half of all women (44 percent) and a third of men (31 percent) in America reported an increase in stress around the holidays. The media and popular culture presents us with an image of what the holidays are supposed to look like—having meals and parties with family and friends, decorating houses and offices, and giving and receiving gifts. Unfortunately, this happy picture doesn’t reflect many realities of families who are struggling. Unrealistic hopes that everything will be perfect, and that everyone needs to be happy leads to disappointment and frustration.

Recognising what triggers your depression and finding ways to support yourself may help you get through the Christmas period. Remember that it is very important to try and maintain your health – eating well, exercising and getting enough sleep can help you cope with negative emotions. Opening up to someone you trust who can check on you and support you can also be very therapeutic. If there is no one to talk to when you are feeling sad or lonely, there are many helplines, chats and services available that offer mental health support at any time of year. If your symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression are severe or long lasting, it may be beneficial to see a professional who can provide some guidance and treatment options. For those who don’t generally have difficulties at this time of year, it’s a good opportunity to reach out to those who struggle during Christmas time.


Claire Borg is a gestalt psychotherapist at Willingness. She works with adolescents and adults. She has a special interest in mental health. She can be contacted on

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