Four in Five Adults in Northern Ireland (79%) say they are expecting something to place pressure on their relationships this Christmas, while one in ten (11%) are absolutely dreading the festive period. This is higher than in Great Britain where 73% of people expect their relationships to feel under pressure.

According to new research by relationships charity Relate NI, uncertainty around Covid-19 & restrictions is the number one reason people are worried about Christmas, with two in five people in NI (41%) expecting this to place their relationships under additional pressures. People in NI are two times more likely than those in GB to be worried about the impacts of Covid-19 & restrictions on their relationships.

Money worries is the second highest expected pressure with 36% of people worried about this in the run up to the festive season. With so many people struggling with their mental health during the pandemic, it’s also no surprise that this is another expected strain on relationships. 25% of people in NI are worried about their personal mental health, while 10% are worried about a loved ones mental health.

If things are getting a bit overwhelming, it’s important to take a breath and Relate NI has put together a new campaign to assist you with doing just that.

The campaign provides a range of tools, including through counsellor videos and downloadable tips, which can help people to use the festive period to Take A Breath in order to Relieve the Pressure on individuals, couples, families, children & young people.

Last year, Relate NI’s resources helped 1583 people across NI to Relieve the Pressures of Christmas, and when people carry out relationship maintenance, the wider family unit indirectly benefits as well.

This year’s campaign resources provide practical ideas and tips to take a breath, relieve some pressures and get through the festive period. You can access the range of tools for Individuals, Couples, Families and Children & Young People here:

https://www.relateni.org/campaign/relieve-the-pressure/

Top tips for navigating the festive season 2021

  • Calculate your budget together and plan a Christmas you can afford rather than going all out and then worrying about how much you’ve spent.
  • If circumstances mean you can’t meet with certain loved ones, talk openly with them about it. Consider arranging a video call on Christmas Day or maybe it’s possible to meet them on another day during the festive period.
  • Be sensitive to what people have been through during the pandemic and look out for family members who may be struggling with their mental health. Give them the option to get involved and let them know you’re there for them but equally don’t put pressure on them to be the life and soul of the party.
  • Know that the perfect Christmas doesn’t exist so don’t put pressure on yourself to create one.
  • Plan some time outdoors so the kids can let off steam and everyone can get some fresh air.
  • Try setting an intention for Christmas day. For example, it might be to ask for help when you need it and accept help when people offer it.
  • If you think fall outs are likely, steer clear of discussions about topics you think might get heated like politics, religion or Covid restrictions.
  • Take a breath: we all need a bit of space at times so why not check out the Relate NI website – which includes videos with our counsellors, self-help resources and information on further support you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed.