How to cope with complicated feelings during the holidays

A leading mental health expert has provided advice to anyone feeling worry or stress this Christmas.

Dr Ben Locke, chief clinical officer of the Togetherall online mental health service, has penned a special blog for people struggling during the festive holidays.

Togetherall is free to anyone with a Blackpool, Fylde or Wyre postcode and provides a safe and anonymous space for people to access peer support in a variety of ways.

In his blog, Dr Locke said: “While the holiday season can represent joy, gratitude and togetherness, it can also be associated with family and financial pressure, loneliness, anxiety and tension. Even if you look forward to the holidays, it’s normal to experience periods of stress or difficulty.

“The holidays may cause a mixture of complicated situations and emotions, such as family and relationship conflict, anxiety around relationships, worries about food, coping with grief, or feeling that everyone else is having a great time and you’re missing out.

“All these feelings are valid and okay, and you’re not alone.”

Dr Locke also provided advice for people to cope with the difficulties they could face during the Christmas period.

He said: “Don’t wing it during the holidays– come up with a plan to feel better and take control.

“Write down the days you’ll be surrounded by people or have a lot going on. Think through the days that might be tough and identify when you’ll need extra support or breaks.

“Identify the people and resources you want to use for support. Talk with these people beforehand or investigate a resource and define strategies for coping.

“Set your intentions: Whether it’s sleep, how you eat, how much you drink, where exercise plays a role, or whether you engage in certain conversations, set your intentions in advance so you can feel in control in the moment. This approach can be generalized for the holiday season or you can do this on a day-to-day or event-by-event basis.

“Take time to develop a list of coping skills that work for you and then think carefully about when you’ll use them.”

To read Dr Locke’s blog in full, visit

To access a range of anonymous mental health support available for free at Togetherall, visit