The news broke yesterday, that the south would be going into tier 4 and that for the rest of the country, it will only be one day they can see family for rather than the 5 days originally. It’s safe to say that many of us got our hopes up, got all our Christmas food in and planned our travels, to be told that this could no longer happen and some of us have to go on complete lockdown and the rest only have that one day, but with travel restrictions that could even be difficult and people work on that specific day which makes it harder. Christmas is a time to spend with loved ones and we definitely thought that by now this virus would be under control, but sadly it is still sticking around and has ruined plans for many. 

As hard as it is, it’s something we have to accept and something we can’t change, it’s out of our control. This year has been hard as it is and to now not be able to do what we normally would at Christmas which would end this year on a happier note. We have to keep in mind that fingers crossed next year we can have the best time with our loved ones and enjoy the festivities together. It is definitely a while away yet, but we have to hold on to these things as a way of pushing ourselves forward. There’s no way to tell what 2021 will hold for us, but we can sure hope it will be better than this one. If there’s anything this year has taught us it’s to not take the time we have with others for granted. This could be that you’ve lost loved ones, you can’t see them due to restrictions or you don’t want to put them at risk.

Here are coping mechanisms that can help you get through this time without seeing your loved ones as well as taking care of your mental health in general. 

woman in black and white floral dress

Ways to cope not seeing loved ones due to the current pandemic 

Make a plan for Christmas day: A great way to make yourself feel better is to plan out what you want to do on that specific day. If there are any traditions you and your family normally do then incorporate them. There are so many different ways to have fun on Christmas day and instead of doing it virtually with your family. You could call them and have a cook-along, plan and prep your dinner and cook dinner together and then see who turn out the best and who gets it done quicker. You could play games, quizzes are a fantastic one to play virtually and are really entertaining!

You could open your presents together over the phone, do some baking together, do some DIY things, listen to your favourite Christmas songs, set up the TV and watch a Christmas movie with them, eat your Christmas dinner with them and so much more. Even though it’s hard not being with them, you can do so much virtually and whilst it’s not the same, it’s still a great way to stay connected and make you all feel better as you can see one another.

Remember it’s ok not to be ok: The truth is, Christmas might not be the best time of year for some people even before the whole pandemic. It’s not everyone’s favourite time of year and it’s important to understand that. But, it’s also the best time of year for some people and when you can’t do what you normally would and you can’t do your normal festivities. It can be very hard because it’s such a drastic change. We’ve been through way too much uncertainty this year and we didn’t expect Christmas to fall into that loop, but somethings are just out of our control. We have to put our minds into that headspace of it’s for the best and that it’ll all be ok, no matter how difficult it is. The truth is, you’re not alone in how you feel right now because everyone is pretty much in the same boat.

So, remember that it’s ok not to be ok and that it’s ok to feel sad, angry, stressed and just all kinds of emotions. This year has been tough and this Christmas may be very hard for some of us. But, we’re strong and we’ll get through it. If you feel down around Christmas time don’t feel bad, it’s ok to not feel a hundred percent, every day and you shouldn’t pressure yourself into being happy and putting on a fake smile. But, what you can do is make sure you try your best to make yourself smile, that you try and do things throughout your day that will pick yourself up a bit. Be there for yourself and make sure that you don’t ignore what you’re feeling. Take it one day at a time, don’t rush yourself.

Try and make your day as festive and fun as possible: A great way to make yourself feel better if you can’t see your loved ones this Christmas is to make your day as festive as you can. Put on a feel-good Christmas movie, blast out the old classic hits and lounge around in your favourite Christmas pyjamas and just enjoy your own company or whoever you’re spending it with. You can always call those you’re missing on that special day. You could cook yourself a yummy dinner, make yourself a scrumptious dessert, have a nice bath, do some self-care for the evening. Curl up on the sofa with a nice cup of hot chocolate and some leftover chocolate and just really let yourself unwind.

Christmas is all about letting yourself relax, going with the flow and not rushing yourself. Just take each minute as it comes, whilst you may feel a bit emotional and that’s ok, but you might also find something that makes you smile and makes you feel jolly and that’s brilliant. No matter what, there are always ways we can help ourselves cheer up and make our mindset more positive and that’s why we’re all so strong. So, let the festivities commence and try your best to have a magical day.

Remember that it’s temporary: I know that temporary, is a very uncertain word to use especially as this time. But, most things are temporary even though it feels like it’s never going to get any better, eventually, it will. It just takes time, as everything does, but you have to keep in your mind that it won’t last forever and you will be able to wrap your arms around your loved ones soon and you will be able to have the best time with them and be able to laugh till your stomach hurts and treasure them special moments.

Whilst, we’re still uncertain as to what next year could bring, there is a glimpse of hope and we have to hold onto that and the thought that just because this Christmas we couldn’t be with the ones we love, hopefully, next year we can be and it can be even bigger and better than ever. Try and turn the negative thoughts into positive, tackle that negative self-talk, accept what you can control and know that even though it’s very hard right now, it will eventually come to an end and we can look back at this in years to come and realise just how strong we’re and how now we will forever be grateful for the time we have with our loved ones.

person standing beside seashore

Coping with grief at Christmas

Grief at Christmas is definitely something that none of us wants to experience, it’s such a heartbreaking thing to go through no matter what time of the year. But, what hurts is that you get so used to having them around at Christmas and then you have to adapt to not having them there. No matter, how much time goes on, whilst grieving gets easier, you still wish they could be with you and that never really goes away. There are quite a few ways to help you cope with grief this Christmas, to help you try and have a good day and of course to always remember their memory no matter what.

  • Decide what traditions you want to keep
  • Decide what traditions you want to change
  • Create a new tradition in memory of a loved one
  • Light a candle in memory of them
  • Reach out to someone, don’t suffer alone
  • Understand that grieving takes time
  • Don’t feel bad for still feeling fragile
  • Try and enjoy yourself as that’s what they’d want
  • Take care of yourself, don’t burn yourself out
  • Remember it’s ok to smile, this doesn’t mean you don’t miss them, don’t feel guilty for finding joy in the holiday season
  • Volunteer
  • Don’t let anyone tell you how to grieve

Here are some more information and more coping mechanisms.

Call Anxiety UK on 03444 775 774

Call CALM on 0800 58 58 58

Call Mind on 0300 123 3393

Call Samaritans on 116 123

Just remember, that if you’ve lost a loved one or you can’t see family due to the pandemic, then just know that it’s ok to not feel your best every day. That it’s going to be tough and you will have bad days, but they won’t last forever as there will be some good. Stay connected virtually with those around you and remember you’re not alone. 

ONLINE COUNSELLING IS AVAILABLE CALL 07510495791 OR EMAIL BECKYWHOCARES1@OUTLOOK.COM

If you’re looking for any online counselling or walk and talk therapy whether you’re a parent and you’re looking for your children. You yourself need it or you’re a student or anyone that is struggling at this time, then please do not hesitate to contact Becky. You can access contact details here. Check out the website for more information.

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Journalist