Christmas is often labelled ‘the most wonderful time of the year’, filled with happiness and cheer, spending time with friends and family away from work and stress. However, for many who are alone, have experienced loss or strained family relationships, Christmas can be a very difficult time. Throw 2020 into the mix; isolation, uncertainty over Covid rules, whether we can spend Christmas with family, who we should bubble with and even worries about whether sending a Christmas card can spread the virus, has led to an increasing numbers of us experiencing anxiety and depression.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon to feel low, sad and disconnected at this time of year – particularly this year.
If you are struggling, here are our mental health and wellbeing tips for looking after yourself this Christmas.
1. Focus on presence instead of presents
The pandemic has affected most of our finances, meaning pressures around buying gifts and how much you spend might create more stress. If your finances have suffered this year, communicate to those around you that this year your budget will be on the lighter side or you cannot afford presents this year. Making this clear ahead of time will help your loved ones understand and they themselves may feel the same and feel relieved that the pressure is lifted. Remember that Christmas is more about presence than presents.
Often great gifts are those with a lot of thought behind them. Could you make something personalised that someone would love or help someone and give your time as the gift? In a year of so much disconnection and loneliness, spending time with people may be the best present they could hope for (restrictions permitting).
Also try to be present in the moment, focus on your breathing, your body, what you can hear, see, feel around you, live in that moment.
2. Sort your present plan today
This is your reminder that Christmas is this week and to buy or sort out your plan for what gifts you will give, today. Leaving it to the last minute causes unnecessary stress that you could avoid by ticking it off your to-do list now!
3. Accept that this Christmas is going to be different
We all have an idea of what a perfect Christmas would be and that differs for everyone. For many, Christmas is put on a pedestal to be the best day of the year. Then, if it isn’t we feel disappointed. If this year has taught us anything it’s to focus on what’s important in life and how to appreciate the little things. You may be alone or not be able to spend the day with your whole family, or see the new year in with your friends at a party, but instead of focusing on what you can’t do, focus on what you can and try to identify positives within this. Accept that this may not be the most textbook Christmas and try to embrace it.
4. Connect with others
If you feel isolated from being unable to visit family or if you’ve been shielding this year, keeping in contact with friends and family is so important. As much as you may feel Zoom’d-out this year, staying connected could benefit you but also others who may be in the same boat. It is difficult to know how others have been managing this year so reaching out by phone or organising a virtual Christmas party might be a saving grace for someone who really needs connection.
If strained family relationships stop you from reaching out or you don’t have people around you, there are many others in the same position. Consider contacting a charity for support or volunteering to help out others. Spending Christmas helping others is not only valuable, but may also give you an uplifting sense of purpose and become your favourite kind of Christmas day.
5. Make some time for yourself
Self-care has been talked about a lot this year, especially on the krysallis blog! This is because of how helpful it can be to focus on yourself for some time. Maybe you’re not a lover of typical self-care activities – having a bath, journaling, reading – but remembering to schedule in time to just chill out and do nothing could be just the ticket for helping your mental health and going into 2021 feeling a bit better about the future.
6. Don’t be afraid to reach out for help
If you are feeling anxious, depressed or overwhelmed, ask someone close to you to help you with your responsibilities. The idea of Christmas this year and being in close proximity to people might feel like too much and that is perfectly fine, there is no shame in asking for help. Speaking to a friend about your feelings, even over text, might relieve some of the pressure.
If you don’t feel like you have anyone to turn to, Please remember that The Samaritans are there for you 24/7, contact them on: https://www.samaritans.org/
We hope you find our Christmas mental health and wellbeing tips helpful. We are a private counselling practice offering in-person and online counselling. if you’d like to speak to an online therapist, our counsellors can be here to listen. Contact us via our website here: https://krysallis.org.uk/about-us/contact/, by email firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01423 857939.
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