Coping over Christmas
Christmas is a beautiful holiday, especially seeing it transpire in the UK! Trust me. After experiencing Christmas in a tropical country where people adorn flip flops, their shortest-shorts and host barbeques in the 40-degree heat outdoors by the swimming pool, you appreciate having a traditional cold Christmas with all the trimmings!
Most people do claim to love Christmas. It’s a time that relates to happy memories for many; bringing back special moments from childhood or across their lives: having belly laughs with loves ones and a festive feast to boot. However, some may be in a similar position to me this year, where Christmas is proving to be quite difficult.
After huge losses, like the death of a loved one – no matter the relationship – or the loss of a job (as many have experienced during this strange year dominated by COVID), or plans that didn’t transpire due to changes that had to be made due to regulations, holidays that were cancelled, events that were downsized, and many moments that were lost across the year, many of us have had a difficult year for various personal reasons. Mental health struggles have been experienced by pretty much everyone across the globe collectively due to uncertainty and higher stress levels. We all know 2020 has been a tough year.
Christmas, which usually feels like the smell of a batch of freshly baked cookies wafting slowly up the stairs, has merely been exacerbating my loneliness this year after the loss of my uncle and long-term romantic relationship. I feel their absence even more than usual. But, this is bound to be the case. When there are big life changes, Christmas highlights the loss of traditions you used to carry out that you no longer can. With COVID, Christmas realistically won’t feel the same this year for anyone but, doesn’t mean we can’t make the most of it! Suggestions to help:
Create new traditions for yourself!
Buy fresh mince pies and enjoy their taste around this time of year!
Bake festive cookies and adorn them with Christmas-themed icing patterns!
Decorate your house or room lovingly with Christmas decorations!
Listen to your favourite festive music!
Watch your favourite Christmas movies!
Spend time with the loved ones you’re living with!
If you live alone, catch up with loved ones on Zoom/Skype/FaceTime!
Send Christmas memes, a festive voice note or message!
Light festive-themed candles like apple-cinnamon!
Add different self-care activities to your days that you can add a Christmas spin to!
Mainly, take extra care of yourself this year.
My counsellor recommended mindfulness to combat the Christmas blues. Being mindful is a wonderful way to appreciate the perfect backdrop for Christmas, even if it is different this year. As the biting-cold breeze blows around you, wrap your woollen coat and scarf tighter around yourself and feel how the material warms your skin snugly. Watch the leaves fall from the trees leaving bare branches, which in time look beautiful in the snow or with fairy lights hung around their bodies. The English Winter season used to entirely bug me, but after following the baking sun around the world for 2 years, I’ve started to mindfully appreciate the descent into winter in this country.
With so many rapid changes due to COVID recently - such as the sudden announcement of Tier 4 - many of us have had to cancel our Christmas plans altogether. It's tough when something cherished is taken away. An older cleaner in my school spoke wisely about having so many wonderful Christmases throughout our lives that it's okay to give up one for everyone's greater good: makes sense when you really think about it. Therefore this year, try not to ruminate on the past or the future, try to bring your mind actively into the present where you can make the most of now. We will have many more years of celebrations so let's aim to enjoy the little things mindfully this year.
Change is tough, for everyone. But embracing the beauty that those changes bring around is part of the magic of Christmas.
Wishing everyone a wonderful, albeit slightly modified, Christmas and New Years!!!
Dharshana ANBU UK Volunteer
It's been an unprecedented year of challenge with unimaginable losses. To anyone feeling overwhelmed, isolated, struggling with emotions this festive season, know you are not alone. Support is available if you need to talk to someone: Samaritans 116123 (freephone) – open 24 hours a day, all year round. MIND side by side online community- an online community where you can listen, share and be heard. Side by Side | A community platform by Mind