Christmas is a hard time of year for lots of people, for many different reasons. It can make existing problems worse, and add new ones. Here are some Do & Don't tips to help you support others during Christmas and New Year:
Don't make assumptions about why the festive period is difficult for them.
Don't ask intrusive questions about their past or experiences. You might never know why they find it difficult. It's often a deeply personal reason. You might want to know more, but you can support them without knowing their reasons. It could help to tell them you understand this.
Don't try to cheer them up. Whatever your intentions, these aren't usually helpful things to hear.
For example, try to avoid saying things like "but Christmas is supposed to be a happy time" or "you could enjoy yourself if you tried." It may also help to avoid saying things like "everyone else is enjoying themselves" or "there are people who have it worse."
Don't take it personally if they don't join in. It may feel disappointing, but it doesn't mean they don't care about you.
"The expectation to be happy over Christmas can feel like a huge burden following you around. You might feel forced to be cheery and smiley but in reality you are feeling like the weather – dark and grey."
Understand that Christmas or New Year means something different to other people, and may bring up very different feelings. You might feel you're sharing a celebration, but that might not be what's happening for them.
Let them know you understand this time can be difficult, and you're there for them.
Tell them they're not alone. They might not know it's common to find things hard at this time of year.
Listen to what they say, and accept their feelings.
Ask if there are things you can start, stop or continue doing. You could suggest they take time to think and come back to you.
Ask them if there are particular things about Christmas or New that are difficult for them, and ask what they think might help. For example, it could be helping them plan how to exit difficult situations, avoid certain activities or deal with difficult conversations.
Remember they aren't trying to spoil things. No one chooses to find things hard.
Look after yourself. Supporting someone else can be difficult. For example, you might feel sad or conflicted. It's ok to confide in someone about how this is affecting you. Your wellbeing matters too. National Mind's pages on coping when supporting someone else have lots more tips.
"I would like Christmas to be a time of giving care love and attention, to really listen to someone who needs to be heard. To empathise and try to understand that we are unique and our basic needs are met through understanding, showing compassion for someone who is hurting."