Seasonal advice for young people, by young people

Christmas is fast approaching and whilst for many it’s a time of celebration, family get-togethers and sharing, it can also be a stressful time. This is particularly so if you live with a parent who suffers from a mental illness. Holiday times can bring added responsibility and you may miss your normal routine of school and meeting your friends. You might think everyone else is having a great time because they are posting happy stories on social media, which of course is only part of the story. 

We asked a few of our young people about what advice they would give to children and young people for the festive season and here are just some of their thoughts. 

Some practical words of advice – by Juliet

  • It’s ok to feel sad or upset over the holidays. You’re a human with feelings and emotions but try your best not to isolate yourself as you can become extremely lonely. Still make plans with friends to get out of the house so as to not lose your social support which is so vital when going through something like this.
  • Contact someone to help you if you feel unsupported. It is not weak or embarrassing to ask a trusted family member or friend for help if you feel overwhelmed or stressed out over the holidays. You deserve to enjoy the festive season, and receiving help, whether it be sharing the responsibilities or just talking about it with someone, will help take some of the burden off your shoulders
  • Don’t feel guilty about enjoying yourself and going out over Christmas. If you don’t do things to help yourself you won’t be able to help others either. It’s just as important, if not more, to make sure you’re mentally and emotionally well over the festive season as it is to make sure a parent or carer is.

Learning to manage Anxiety – by Chineye

“Anxiety is part of normal life because it is something that we all experience at some point in our lives. Lots of things can trigger anxiety, and for some people, Christmas can be a time when we feel more anxious because there are higher expectations. 

It is useful to notice when you are feeling stressed and do something calming so that the feelings of anxiety do not linger. This could involve taking time out with friends and don’t forget to do the things that make you feel good, whatever they are – perhaps sport, exercise, music or just going to a movie with a friend. You can choose to do your enjoyable activities with others or on your own. 

Back of the head shot of a girl looking at festive lights

It can be helpful to do a controlled breathing exercise when you feel most anxious which promotes feelings of relaxation. Here’s how you do it, it’s really simple and effective :

  • Sit comfortably on a chair, or lie on the floor or on a bed, uncross your hands and legs, relax your shoulders, take a deep breath in for four counts and breath out for four counts.
  • Continue in that way until you start to feel more relaxed.
  • Don’t give up too soon and do it regularly to get the most benefit.”

You are not alone – by Sabreena

“For some of you it may have been a tough year but coming to the holiday season it is time for you to try to take a step back from the day to day worries and find the place where you can feel safe and at ease.  It may not be a relaxing season for some but just know that no matter your responsibility and worry; you are not alone. 

Don’t be disheartened if things do not go to plan during the holiday period. Engage in activities that you like doing as it is important to love yourself, especially during the holiday season. I wish you all a festive holiday season and remember to treat yourself well.”

Thank you to all our young people for their words of advice. If you are struggling this Christmas, then you are not alone. For immediate help and someone to talk to, visit our Help section.