Three in 10 Brits admit their mental health takes a complete nosedive over the Christmas period - due to financial worries, entertaining guests and keeping everyone happy

By Richard Jenkins
Friday, 17th December 2021, 3:35 pm
Updated Friday, 17th December 2021, 3:36 pm

A poll of 2,000 adults found meeting expectations of relatives, social commitments and the pressure to pay for everything makes many feel stressed and overwhelmed.

While a third said they struggle more during the winter months due to suffering from SAD (seasonal affective disorder).

As many as 31 per cent admit they are already suffering from sleepless nights as they worry about the festive period.

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The research also found that 13 per cent feel they're likely to get more headaches and one in five will feel more irritable.

Among the most common struggles Brits feel during this time include feeling overwhelmed (15 per cent), anxiety (12 per cent) and tiredness (12 per cent).

And more than four in 10 (41 per cent) said they were feeling the pressure to make this Christmas extra special.

Of those trying to make this year a festive season to remember, a staggering seven in 10 said the burden is negatively affecting their mental health.

Brits are feeling overwhelmed this Christmas

Skipton Building Society carried out the study to highlight that while many people might feel overwhelmed this Christmas, support is out there including from their charity partner Mental Health UK.

Spokeswoman Stacey Stothard said: “While we’re all hoping that this year, we can spend more time over Christmas in the company of loved ones than we did last year, that needn’t come at such a cost to our mental well-being.

"The pandemic has put a lot of pressure on families to try to make up for last year's Christmas, which saw loved ones separated at such a special time of the year.

"But we all have mental health, and it's so important to recognise when it may be declining and some of the things we can do to preserve it, such as simply talking with trusted others or accessing free support online.”

Affording presents and food (29 per cent), January debt (29 per cent) and trying to juggle work with social engagements (20 per cent) feature among the reasons Christmas takes its toll on some.

Of those who find Christmas stressful, one quarter admit they feel lonelier at this time of year and 22 per cent don’t have friends and family to celebrate with.

Figures also show there is a divide between how different age groups and genders are coping with Christmas.

The research, conducted via OnePoll, found 76 per cent of those aged 18 to 24 were most likely to find the period stressful, with almost four in 10 claiming they have no one they feel comfortable talking to about their mental health.

Meanwhile, over 65s are less likely to find Christmas a worrying time, with just 44 per cent saying they struggled over the festive period.

Women are more likely to find it difficult than men, with six in 10 pretending to be absolutely fine even when they are not.

Harbouring feelings is a theme for many, particularly the 30 per cent of adults who feel they have no one they are comfortable talking to about their mental health at this time of year.

Katie Legg, director of strategy and partnerships at Mental Health UK, Skipton Building Society’s charity partner, [www.skipton.co.uk/charity-partner] said: “We see people piling pressure on themselves around the festive period in lots of ways such as meeting up with family and friends and spending money, which can affect our mental health.

“The pandemic has clearly had a significant impact on our wellbeing, and long-term uncertainty can compound these pressures, fuelling feelings of stress and anxiety in the run up to Christmas.

"However, there are ways we can each support our wellbeing through the winter, and places we can get support, like our online community, Clic.

“We are hugely grateful for Skipton Building Society’s generous donation of £200,000 towards our work.

"This money will help us run our online community platform Clic for 18 months to ensure anyone can connect and get access to support for their mental health.

“Every conversation can make a difference, and Clic provides a safe and welcoming environment for everyone to find someone to talk to.”

Winter wellbeing tips from Mental Health UK

1. Set a budget and stick to it – to avoid overspending and ending up in debt

2. Log off, wrap up and get outside -.Being in nature and taking notice of surroundings can do wonders for mental health at a time when it feels easier to be indoors

3. It’s OK not to feel OK – but if you want someone to talk to join Clic, an online community set up by Mental Health UK

4. Prioritise your wellbeing - make sure you only do things you want to do

5. Mental Health UK is sharing winter wellbeing tips every day in the lead up to Christmas on the @mhealthuk Instagram page, give them a follow and join in the conversation.

TOP REASONS WHY MENTAL HEALTH MIGHT NOSEDIVE

1.            Keeping everyone happy

2.            Worrying about what to buy everyone

3.            SAD syndrome (seasonal affective disorder) – struggling during the winter months

4.            Meeting expectations of relatives

5.            Generally affording things such as presents or food

6.            Having to pay for everything in one month of the year

7.            You feel lonelier at this time of year

8.            Meeting expectations of the children

9.            Running out of money before Christmas even arrives

10.          Worrying about getting everything right with the Christmas dinner

11.          Having to entertain guests

12.          The debt facing you in January

13.          You don’t have family/ much family to spend Christmas with

14.          You don’t have the plans in place that everyone else seems to

15.          Trying to juggle work with festive arrangements

16.          You don’t have friends/many friends to spend Christmas with

17.          Trying to get work wrapped up before Christmas Eve

18.          Having to work over the Christmas period

19.          Attending multiple social events while carrying on with everything else as normal

20.          Meeting expectations of friends