Coping with the Holidays
Coping with money worries
There is a lot of financial pressure around Christmas which can be especially difficult if you are already struggling with money. Of course, everyone's circumstances are different but there are some tips and ideas that may help you.
Firstly, make sure you are claiming all the benefits you are entitled to - our article on managing money & debt has lots of information on where you can go for extra support, including; benefits checks, knowing your priority dates, financial MOTs, and help with energy bills.
Be organised and make lists, plans, or a budget and stick to it. By noting things down it can make things feel more manageable and allow us to think clearly. Having a budget can help you feel more in control of what you can spend, use our handy budgeting tool.
Take a look in your local area for any free or low-cost Christmas events, you may also be able to get support with things like gifts or food. You can search for local events and activities on the Reengage website. Another alternative is low-cost or free items online, you may find items you can use as gifts or decorations through social media and websites like Freecycle.
It's very easy to look at adverts and social media and make comparisons, remember that these often don't reflect reality. It may help to take breaks from social media and be kind to yourself. Worrying about money can have a massive impact on our mental health and make us feel worried, embarrassed, or angry. Whilst it can be hard to talk about money, try to be open with others, who may be able to help you or may also be in the same situation. You may be able to agree on how you have a low-cost Christmas or they could offer other kinds of support.
Lastly, try not to blame yourself for your situation or how you're feeling about it.
How to look after yourself
If you struggle with Christmas and some of the challenges it can bring, it's really important to look after yourself.
You need to be gentle and patient with yourself, think about what is best for your wellbeing and prioritise what you need. It can help to remind yourself that this period won't last forever, you could set a start and finish time for what you count as Christmas. If things aren't helpful or best for you try to say no and set your own boundaries.
You will probably be experiencing lots of different feelings and even if they are very different to whats going on around you, they are still valid. You may need to take some time out and do something to forget it's Christmas or distract yourself, this could be reading a book or learning a new skill. If you can't avoid some of the more difficult things, think about planning something that you need afterwards. This can help reduce some of the stress or distress you may be feeling, as you'll have something else to focus on.
It may help to plan ahead, for example if certain places or activities are triggering and cause stress, think about what you need to be able to cope. You could also think about whether you really need to do these things and make a list of services and their opening hours that you may need over Christmas.
Above all, be kind to yourself and try to do what is right for you.
It can be really difficult talking to other people and answering their questions so you could try to think about some of the answers in advance, e.g. how your doing or your plans.
It's ok to tell someone that you don’t want to talk about something or change the subject, think about how to end the conversations you find difficult. An easy way to move on is to suggest an activity, like playing a game or taking a break if you're on a video call.
It can be stressful knowing whether to buy gifts or how much to spend, so to avoid this you could talk about it beforehand and either agree not to buy presents or set a realistic budget.
Sometimes it can feel like people don't understand how your feeling, so showing them this information can help or you could write down how you feel if a conversation is too difficult.
Open up and talk to other people
Talking and sharing can be a good things and letting people know you're struggling is nothing to be ashamed of and can really help to talk to someone you trust. It doesn’t have to be people already in your life, you could join an online community and talk to people who have similar experiences to you.
People generally want to help but don't know how to so you may need to tell them what they can do to help. You could let them know what activities you do want to be involved in and what they can do to support you over Christmas. Or you could just tell them any topics or questions that you find hard to discuss so that they can avoid asking you about them.
Remember, your feelings are valid and you don't have to justify yourself to other people. You may feel pressure to, especially if someone asks a lot of questions. Again, it may help if you tell them the situations that are difficult for you and how they can help and reassure them you understand that they may see things differently to you.