Relate Launches Christmas Sanctuary

Monday, December 13th, 2021

68% living in the South East anticipate relationship pressures this Christmas

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Well over half (68%) of people living in the South East say they are expecting something to place pressure on their relationships this Christmas, according to a poll from leading relationships charity Relate.[i]  This compares to almost three quarters of across the UK as a whole (73%) with Londoners being the most likely to be anticipating relationship pressures (83%) and those in the South East the least likely (68%).

Money worries is the number one expected pressure in the South East (22%), closely followed by uncertainty around COVID-19 (19%) and respondent’s concerns about their own mental health (15%).

Pressure to create a ‘perfect Christmas’ this year was another predicated source of relationship tension (13%) as was pressure to socialise (13%) and heightened feelings of loss and grief (11%). Other likely pressures include not being able to see loved ones (10%), making the children happy (10%) and not having enough alone time (9%). Less than one in ten are worried about family arguments (8%) or arguments with their partner (7%).

Knowing all too well the added stress our relationships and wellbeing can come under at Christmas time, Relate Mid-Surrey is encouraging people to seek support such as relationship, individual or family counselling at the earliest opportunity. Relate has also launched its Christmas Sanctuary– an online haven for when things start to get overwhelming. The Christmas Sanctuary includes festive self-help articles from Relate counsellors, a quiz from Paired (the number one app for couples) about how in sync you and your partner are this Christmas and an exclusive guided meditation from yoga teacher, public speaker and vibe giver Sanchia Legister.

Janine Fuller, CEO of Relate Mid-Surrey who specialise in supporting couples, individuals, families, children and young people said: “Christmas can be one big pressure-cooker and we see a big influx in people signing up to services like relationship counselling and family counselling every New Year after tensions have come to a head. Finances are notoriously stretched at Christmas and when people have different attitudes towards spending this can add to conflict and feelings of resentment.

“Covid-19 and restrictions are still a big cause for concern this year and likely even more so following the recent announcement surrounding Plan B. A lot of respondents in the South East also had worries around their own mental health. If things are getting a bit overwhelming it’s important to take a breath. Do check out our Christmas Sanctuary and consider seeking relationship support such as our relationship, individual or family counselling if things are tough right now.”

More positively, Relate’s research found that despite the predicted relationship pressures, 70% of people in the South East are looking forward to Christmas this year.  Relate has compiled some tips to help families cut themselves some slack and make the most of Christmas.

Relate’s tips for navigating Christmas 2021

  • Calculate your budget 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 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 politics and religion.
  • Take a breath: we all need a bit of space at times so why not check out Relate’s Christmas Sanctuary – an online haven which includes a guided meditation, self-help articles and a quiz which you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
  • If you need to talk to someone impartial about your relationship and wellbeing concerns over Christmas consider Relate’s WebChat service which offers a 30 minute online chat with a trained counsellor.


[i] Online survey of 2,005 general respondents aged 16+ of which 275 were in the South East. Nationally representative carried out by Censuswide on behalf of Relate between 19 and 22 November 2021. In the question referenced respondents were asked to tick all that apply from the following list of options. Money worries, Uncertainty around COVID-19 and restrictions, My mental health, Not being able to see loved ones, Making the children happy, The pressure to create a perfect Christmas, Feeling lonely, Pressure to socialise, Heightened feelings of loss and grief, Not having any time to myself, Deciding who to spend Christmas with, A loved one’s mental health, Arguments with family members, Arguments with my partner, Caring responsibilities, The pressure of hosting, Divorce/separation’.