Supporting someone who may be struggling this Christmas

This page has tips to help you support others who may be struggling during this festive period.

Christmas can be a hard time of year for many people. Financial strains and pressures, loneliness and home hardships can all have an impact. Christmas can see new problems arise or even worsen existing issues.

This page has tips to help you support others who may be struggling during this festive period.

Things not to do when someone is struggling:

  • Don't take it personally if someone doesn't want to join in on what you perceive to be festive cheer. This can be a party, a game, Christmas dinner, etc. It may feel disappointing, but it doesn't mean that they don't care about you.

  • Please don't make assumptions about why Christmas may be a difficult time for them. It may be hard, but try not to ask intrusive questions about their past or experiences. The reason many people find this time of year difficult can often be deeply personal. Reassure them that you are there if they ever need to talk, but also be ok with the fact that they may never want to share this with you. You may want to know more, but you can support them without having every detail. You can support them by referring them to outside help such as Talk To Tom.

  • Try not to cheer someone up with quips such as: "Cheer up Grinch; it's Christmas." Or: "You could enjoy yourself if you tried." Your intentions may be coming from a good place, but statements like this are not usually constructive. Also avoid saying things like "there are people who have it far worse than you," or "everyone else is having fun but you."

Helpful things to do when someone is struggling at Christmas:

  • Understand that Christmas can mean many different things for many people. While it may conjure up happy memories and emotions for you, for others, it may be the complete opposite.

  • Let them know that you understand that this time of year can be difficult for them and that you are there for them if they ever want to talk.

  • Let them know that they aren't alone and that many people find things hard during the Christmas period. The expectation to feel happy may feel like a huge burden to them, leaving people to feel even more isolated when they feel everyone else is happy.

  • Listen to what they say and respect their feelings.

  • Ask if there are things you can do to help. Maybe you can start, stop, or continue doing certain things that they may find helpful. If they can't think of something right away tell them that's ok, to think on it and come back to you.

  • Ask them if there are particular things about Christmas that are difficult, and ask what they think might help. For example, it could be helping them plan how to exit difficult situations, avoid certain activities or people, or deal with difficult conversations.

  • REMEMBER they aren't trying to spoil Christmas for you or others around them. No one chooses to find things difficult or to feel low.

  • 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.

Help someone who’s feeling suicidal or who you believe may be suicidal: It can come as a massive shock when a loved one, friend or even a stranger tells you that they are feeling suicidal. It may have left you feeling confused about what to do or how to help them - but please rest assured there are services and resources available and we will help guide you through them. Firstly - it is of the utmost importance that you take the person seriously. It is a myth that people who talk about suicide are only looking for attention. If an individual has built up the courage to speak with you about ending their own life, they are serious about it. Be patient, kind and reassuring and help to usher them through what is one of the lowest points of their life. There are many services available that you can help refer them to including us. Let us help you here at Talk To Tom we can be your guide - contact us on (0818) 303061 or