79% of people expect relationship pressures this festive season

79% of people expect relationship pressures this festive season

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 a poll we ran of 250 people in NI between November 22nd-24th, 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 we have put together a new campaign to assist you with doing just that.

Take A Breath Campaign Image

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:



Relate NI 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 our campaign resources –which includes videos with our counsellors, self-help resources and information on further support you can access if you’re feeling overwhelmed.
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“How Relate NI helps people”

“I found the Relationship MOT an excellent method of focusing on we work as a couple and just as importantly, where we need to work. It was professional, insightful and well worth the time. It has reminded us of how much we have to be proud of in our relationship and why it is so important to occasionally review it with experts.”Service Attended Relationship MOT
“I would definitely recommend using the Relationship MOT service as a bit of a check in with your partner. I thought how the counsellor was able to steer the conversation was very insightful and nuanced. The MOT reminded us about why we are great together but also the importance of communication and respect.” “Our counsellor provided an outside perspective which immediately helped us to agree that we needed to stop and think with more kindness and empathy for each other especially when stressed or pissed off. We both felt that our counsellor’s excellent and gentle facilitation was quite invigorating. So many positives!”Service Attended Relationship MOT 2
Very Interesting Content. I like the concept of preparing your relationship before you have problemsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 4
The face to face programme has made me feel connected with others experiencing similar thingsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 3
The workshops made me more confident to balance family life after the baby's arrivalService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 2
I now have a better understanding of myself, it is good to know that it is normal to have argumentsService Attended Sustaining Healthy Relationships – Surestart 1
I felt the weekly questionnaire, couples with the counsellor's understanding of my needs help contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughout.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
I loved every session. Our counsellor listened to what we had to say and gave us helpful wee homework - would recommend this service to everybodyService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
Our counsellor was a fantastic support - we now feel strong enough to continue working on our relationship togetherService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Couples
I had a very good counsellor that helped me through a lot and it has made me come out the other side.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling for Individuals
Counselling took us from a bad place to a good one and I would return if neededService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
Been a lifeline to help us fall in love again - forever grateful!Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I would just like to say that when I first came for counselling I felt that I was drowning.  I have completed my sessions and I now feel that I can cope a lot better with everything.  Thank you for a brilliant service.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
Thank you Relate NI for a good nights sleep.Service Attended Relate NI Kids Counselling
Really enjoyed Relate NI and I'm actually going to miss counselling.  I Found it helpful to find myself again. Very fair and equal within our relationship.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I appreciated the straightforward, helpful and informed observations about situations. It really helped me cope during Christmas which is a difficult time for usService Attended Family Counselling
The counsellor was very pleasant to meet with.  They had the necessary skills to speak and listen when appropriate.  I liked their humour and good personality.Service Attended Family Counselling
Relate NI has helped me move on as well as understand myself and situation more.  My counsellor listened to me, facilitated me and was compassionate!Service Attended Relate NI Teen Counselling
I felt the weekly questionnaire, coupled with counsellor's understanding of my needs helped contribute to my own understanding of my mental health and needs throughoutService Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals
We had four funded sessions and cannot express how grateful we are for the help, guidance and knowledge. Our counsellor was incredibly professional, and her experience and obvious passion for helping couples like us was exceptional. She helped us to understand ourselves and each other like we otherwise never would have been able to.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Couples
I have tried counselling many times in the past. This time actually made a difference. I was able to complete online sessions as well as some face to face.Service Attended Adult Relationship Counselling For Individuals

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