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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

RELATE NI | Christmas optimism has almost halved in Northern Ireland according to new survey

Relate NI highlights pressure on relationships due to virus restrictions and launches self-help e-books as part of first Winter Campaign, ‘Relieve The Pressure’

People in Northern Ireland are feeling much more pessimistic about Christmas this year, with optimism levels dropping by almost half due to Covid-19 according to the results of a survey conducted for Relate NI.

76% of respondents surveyed said they normally feel positive about Christmas whereas this has dropped significantly with only 44% of people in Northern Ireland feeling optimistic about the festive season this year.

More than a fifth (21%) of respondents surveyed feel negative about Christmas this year with many feeling it won’t be the same because they are unable to spend it with loved ones.

And while the build-up to the festive period can be stressful for many, this year added concerns about health, the loss of a loved one and financial worries have poured on the pressure. 

The survey of local people aged 16+ coincides with the launch of Relate NI’s first ever Winter Campaign entitled ‘Relieve The Pressure’.

As part of the campaign the organisation, which provides counselling for individuals, couples, young people, children and families, has launched a series of e-books packed full of tips to help people who are struggling at Christmas. 

Stephen Maginn

Stevie Maginn, Relate NI communications & engagement officer commented:

“Relationships are fundamental to our health and wellbeing but the pressures of the festive period have the potential to exacerbate relationship tensions. 

“Only 49% of respondents surveyed expect to celebrate Christmas in their usual way this year, and this has the potential to further increase the pressures on relationships. 

“It’s perfectly normal to take steps to prepare yourself and your relationships for the pressures you may face this Christmas and New Year. 

“We have put together a series of e-books and videos which provide practical ideas and tips to Relieve the Pressure on your Relationships with yourself, your partner, your children and your family. 

“Relate NI’s team of skilled and professional counsellors are also available to help support people and their relationships.” 

In the far-reaching survey designed to measure the impact of the pandemic on local people this festive season, 43% of people surveyed admitted they expect Christmas 2020 to be different from previous years.

The main reasons given for spending this Christmas without someone they normally would were Covidrestrictions (63%) and having a fear of transmitting the virus (44%).

Men are much more optimistic with 54% of them expecting Christmas celebrations to be normal compared to 45% of women. More than half (53%) said they will be spending this Christmas without someone they normally would. with the majority (62%) of these citing Covid restrictions as a reason and 22% due to death or illness. 

Stevie Maginn explains: “There has been a huge shift in opinion with people overall having a more pessimistic view on Christmas 2020. 

“Usually 76% of people feel positive or very positive about Christmas, whereas this year the figure has dropped significantly to just 44%. 

That so many respondents feel less positive about Christmas this year illustrates how much additional pressure people are under, which if left unchecked, may give rise to unhelpful conflict in our relationships.”

“Our series of Christmas & New Year e-books provide practical ideas on how to manage conflict, communicate effectively, and Relieve the Pressure on your Relationships.”

Just 46% of those aged 55+ expect to celebrate Christmas this year in the usual way. This is compared to 49% of all respondents surveyed.

The main change for people who don’t expect to celebrate Christmas this year in the usual way this year is not spending it with the usual family and friends (50%), many having to exclude certain relatives due to restrictions (40%), although 7% of those asked did say it will be more special than ever as they get to see family and friends.  

Regarding the financial side of Christmas this year, 15% of respondents are significantly more worried than usual, another 26% reporting they were somewhat more worried.

Of those surveyed, 10% of those who don’t expect to celebrate Christmas in their usual way this year admitted there would be no Christmas presents this year due to financial pressures. 

Very few people – just 8% of those who celebrate Christmas - strongly agreed they were relieved about not having to see certain family members this Christmas as a result of the Covid restrictions, with 38% strongly disagreeing. 

Most people (72%) agree they’re looking forward to 2021, while only 11% disagree.

To download Relate NI’s new self-help e-books log on to or call 028 9032 3454.


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