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Community and mental health services for Southampton, Portsmouth and parts of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight.


Supporting your well-being this holiday season

The holiday season is fast approaching us, and although it can be a wonderful time for many, it can also come with many challenges for a lot of people. Factors like difficult relationships, the pressure to spend money, darker days, holiday stress and overwhelm can be common causes of struggles.

Adele Sales, Occupational Health Cognitive Behavioural Therapist, shares her tips to help ease some of the pressures surrounding this time of year:

Managing the pressure to spend money

A lot of us are feeling the pressures of the Cost of Living currently, and with the holidays coming up, there may be a pressure on many to spend money that perhaps we don’t have right now. Often, the expectations we put on ourselves are much harsher than those put on us by others. If you are feeling the pinch right now – don’t feel that you need to go into debt to get through the holiday season. Perhaps consider setting a spending limit with family and friends, or even agreeing to skip some presents this year and choose to just enjoy quality time. If you feel anxious about having this conversation, imagine it the other way around – if your loved ones admitted they were struggling financially to buy a present for you this year, how would you respond? Most likely you would respond with understanding and kindness. Remember, it is very likely the same would be extended to you.

Managing holiday sadness and comparison

You are not alone if the holiday season makes you feel sad, lonely, nostalgic, or anything else other than the happiness and cheer we see advertised on TV. It’s okay to not be okay this time of year. For many, the holiday season can bring stress, comparison to other people, and a lot of people may miss loved ones they might have lost. Putting pressure on ourselves with an expectation of how we “should” feel can only lead us to feel worse. Can you take this pressure off yourself if you can? Allow yourself to feel however you do, and at the same time, check in with what you might need this year. Is that more alone time? More self-care? More support from friends? It is okay to spend the holidays in any way that you need to – even if this is pretending they are not happening completely! Remember that what we see online for other people too, is often not the whole story.

Boundaries with difficult relationships

Conversations with friends and family members aren’t easy and supportive at the best of times, and it can feel even harder if we are spending more time with people we find difficult at this time of year. Sensitive topics such as food, life “mile-stones”, relationships, politics and religion may not be always approached sensitively at the dinner table. It’s okay to practice sentences such as “I’m not going to talk about that today”, if you feel that your boundaries are being pushed. You might have to repeat yourself a few times with sentences like this for them to sink in, but taking action on protecting your own mental health in the holidays is important.

We hope that these tips might help with anyone who find the holidays more difficult.

From the Well-being team, we are wishing you a gentle December and all the best for the New Year ahead.

Patient Advice and Liaison Service (PALS)

Please visit our services page for specific services and contact details. Alternatively, contact our Patient Advice and Liaison Service by emailing or calling the number below. You can also give us feedback, make a complaint or share a compliment.

0800 013 2319

*Lines are open Monday to Friday 10am – 4pm.

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The Act sets out exemptions to that right and places certain obligations on public authorities.


Phone: 0300 123 3919

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Our administrative and managerial centre is based in Southampton.

While our services can be found around various NHS locations in Southampton and Portsmouth (and surrounding districts), our administrative and managerial centre is based in Southampton at:

Highpoint Venue
Bursledon Road
SO19 8BR

If you require a printable version of how to find us including bus times, car access and bike info please download our leaflet. (Copyright of Highpoint Venue).

Central office phone: 0300 123 3390

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0300 123 4156 or 02381 031076

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