3 ways to get through Christmas

Published: Posted on

By Dr Anita Soni (University of Birmingham) and Megan Tucker (Community Project Leader for Humanify: making lives better)

The winter holidays can be difficult and stressful. Everyone tends to have high expectations. The myth of a perfect Christmas with lots of food, presents, warmth and joy epitomised by images of families eating, playing and laughing together in the warm. However, the reality for many can be very different. The winter break can be a really stressful time, ending one difficult year and beginning another potentially difficult year. During this period, the routines go and even if those mundane habits are challenging, they are predictable. So, what is best to do?

  1. Look after yourself

Before thinking of others, it’s important look after yourself. It is the old adage of ensuring your oxygen mask is on, before helping anyone else with theirs. First of all, accept the end of December and beginning of January can be a tricky time of year, and give yourself permission to not be perfect. Then stop and think about the different ways that you already look after yourself. What works for you? Now ensure that you allow space and time for that – maybe even allow a little bit more. If it is difficult to engage in self-care, here are some examples;

  • have time to stop for yourself even if your family are on their screens,
  • connect with others you enjoy being with,
  • relax using a free meditation app (5-minute journal: Self-Care, Balance, Medito),
  • laugh by listening to a podcast (for example, on BBC sounds)
  • escape, read and learn – get a book from your local library or have a look at the e-library where you can download as many magazines as you want for as long as you want!
  1. Eat good, feel good

Food can be a big pressure. However, there are many cheap nutritious foods, such as a tin of baked beans on toast, daal and rice as well as rice and peas. A helpful app is Whisk, the all-in-one app for recipe saving, meal planning, grocery shopping, and recipe sharing.

There are also places to get food including;

  • Pantries operate as membership food clubs and neighbourhood hubs and bring people together around food, loosening the grip of poverty and contributing to healthier, happier lives. Look up Your Local Pantry.
  • Local foodbanks as shown on the Birmingham Food Justice Network Map.
  • Local places of worship have meals available, even on Christmas day.

If you are looking for company while you enjoy your meal, you can always consider organising a bring-and-share lunch?

  1. Fun for all the family

Thirdly, entertainment and fun for the family. There are things that you can take children to for free;

  • Local libraries sometimes have groups and storytelling sessions or craft clubs
  • Local holiday activity clubs and events such as cooking, sport and craft workshops – visit the Bring it on Brum website to find out what is going on near you
  • Check out your local parks as many have activities

You can also have fun at home;


So as you enter the Winter holiday season: bag it, bin it and bring it!

  • Bag it (what you’re going to save/bag for later e.g. your worries and concerns)
  • Bin it (what you’re not going to engage with e.g. thinking about a rubbish relationship!)
  • Bring it (what are you going to do to make the festive period great e.g. your love!)

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the University of Birmingham.

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