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Let’s face it, not everyone is a big fan of the holiday season – it may not be socially acceptable to say but some of us don’t like Christmas! (Sssshhh!)

It kind of makes me feel like a grouch to say it – but, in the spirit of honesty, I fell more into that category! In fact, Christmas has carried a triggering element when it comes to my OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder) & GAD (generalised anxiety disorder).

The mania leading up to the event, the constant spending, the back-to-back socialising (it’s tough work being an introvert!) plus, the perceived weight of expectation from our friends and families – amplified by a ‘people pleasing’ mentality! The year is topped off with my birthday on Boxing Day, which comes with its own emotional 'weight'. 

AND, at the start of 2022 – we all hoped this year would be about creating the ‘new normal’ – however, it’s been another turbulent year – we cannot dress it up, we need to acknowledge it. Multiple Prime Ministers, the passing of & the appointment of a new Monarch, global conflict, the cost-of-living crisis just to name a handful of challenges you have survived & maybe even thrived through!

In addition to all this, at this time of year our thoughts often turn to those who are no longer here – so raise a glass with fondness, allow those feelings to settle & give yourself lots of self-care (whatever that looks like for you) if grief can become more prevalent for you in the festive period & do note the ‘need help’ link at the bottom of this article.

Phew! I need to take a lie down in a dark room just writing about this!

It's not all doom and gloom

But, before you label me a Grinch or assume I was surrounded by challenging people – I assure you I am not either of those things – the burden of responsibility lies solely with me, and I fully accept that! However, accepting that means that I have put processes and tools in place to help me over the years and every year I begin to enjoy the period more and more.

I ensure that boundaries are set well in advance, expectations are managed, and I always escape to the Cornish coast at the end of December until the first week of January so that I can ‘recharge’ before the new working year starts. Read my tips below on how to thrive at Christmas.

Now. I look forward to the Christmas period because I do it on my terms – whilst being respectful of others. I enjoy seeing my family and friends, expectations have been managed when it comes to ‘who goes to who’ and ‘who is buying who what’ – well in advance! Plus, I can throw all of me into the holidays because I have a break to recover in scheduled just after – win, win, win.


My top tips for thriving through Christmas:

  • Map out what your ideal Christmas for you looks like.
  • Set some boundaries to ensure you get as close to that as possible.
  • Communicate the above to everyone involved ASAP so it’s sorted well in advance – manage expectations.
  • If you feel you will be using lots of energy – schedule lots of ‘me time’ in too!
  • Ask people what they want too – often, we are all trying to please everyone based on what we assume.
  • Prepare a budget and if required communicate with people if finances are challenging – be honest.
  • Prioritise what has to be done versus what you would like to be done.
  • Give yourself the recognition you deserve for thriving through another tough year, we hardly ever do that – so, well done you!
  • If this time of the year is difficult for you – make sure you plan something fun, something that you love to do – to recharge your batteries over the holiday season.

Have a very Merry Christmas, a Happy Holidays & a prosperous 2023! Remember if you do need any help, all of the links I signpost to can be found here –

About the author - Nick Elston 

Nick Elston is one of the highest-profile and leading Inspirational Speakers on the Lived Experience of Mental Health.

In life, we can either let our adversities, our challenges, define us negatively for the rest of our lives…or…we can choose for it to forge something beautiful, something powerful – something that never would have existed without you going through your ‘stuff’ in the first place.

Described as a ‘BIG man, BIG heart, BIG story & BRUTAL honesty!’, ‘Utterly inspirational, absolutely engaging!’ and ’10/10 –a Speaking Masterclass!’ – Nick shares his experiences of Mental Illness, Mental Ill-Health & Breakdown worldwide –through his powerful, inspiring, engaging & emotional talks.

Most importantly, Nick shares his ‘Lived Experience’ through insights, tools, tips and techniques on how to manage Anxiety in Life, in Business – to implement immediately.

Nick is regularly featured in the global media, the BBC, industry shows and publications – his talks are delivered to stages, events, boardrooms, businesses, factories, government organisations, schools, universities, prisons & establishments worldwide.  For more information, or to book Nick visit > Inspirational speaker - Nick Elston 


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