Practice self-care at Christmas time

Christmas can be the most wonderful time of the year but, for some, it can seem that little bit harder due to the associated pressures of the festive season. Add to that the ongoing presence of COVID-19 in our lives and it can be easy to feel overwhelmed and for your mental health to struggle.

You can't choose when Christmas comes, but you can choose to help yourself get through it.

Get real

Have realistic expectations.

Don’t expect that Christmas will be perfect. Be honest and realistic about what you can expect from the season.

Write down what is really important to you. Prioritise and tackle one thing at a time. Give yourself permission to say no. Plan ahead and have some nice things organised that you’d like to do with others outside of family gatherings.


Reflect on what you've achieved this year.

I think most people will be happy to have made it through the year in one piece so the focus should be on accepting yourself and where you are right now, in what is an ever-changing landscape.

As the end of the year approaches, try not to be hard on yourself for things you thought you should have achieved by now.

Accept yourself and where you are right now. This Christmas period, use the time to reflect on how far you have come and all you have achieved.

Be compassionate

Show compassion for others. A simple act of kindness can change any experience completely. Often at Christmas, people feel more lonely and isolated than normal. A thoughtful gesture can make a real difference. This could be spending time with someone or offering them a listening ear.

Research shows that helping others increases your own sense of wellbeing. An easy way to do this is to take part in your community.

Healthy habits

At times like Christmas, it's easy to fall out of your normal routine. Your body clock can change and it's not unusual to over-indulge in many different ways.

As a result, your motivation levels can drop and you can feel bloated, sluggish and unwell.

Maintain your healthy habits by:

• Keeping up a healthy sleep pattern (

• Making an effort to exercise outdoors (

• Eating a good diet (

• Minding your alcohol intake (


Above all else, allow yourself to take some time out during the Christmas season. If you are feeling drained in any way, find yourself a quiet space to breathe.

Take time to rest and restore your energy. Christmas might be all about giving, but that means giving to yourself too.

Seek professional help if you need to.

Despite your best efforts, you might feel low, stressed, sad or anxious over Christmas.

Talk to your GP before Christmas about what support they can offer you.

Don't hesitate to reach out. Many services (especially helpline and online services) are open during Christmas.

The HSE is encouraging anyone who is experiencing ongoing stress, anxiety, mental health or sleep problems to make the connection with their mental health and take a moment to visit

Here you can find a range of information on breathing exercises, resources on physical activity, apps on mindfulness, online courses on stress control and many more to help you over the coming weeks.