Self-Care this Christmas

I’ve been mulling (not just wine) over making some sort of Christmas post for weeks, but it hasn’t happened. I had bright and exciting ideas for Christmas book reviews, gift recommendations, all manner of festive writings to get you in the Christmas spirit, but nothing has materialised. This is for two reasons. The first being that the miserable circumstances we find ourselves in have left me with no motivation. No motivation leads to minimal productivity, minimal productivity leads to self-criticism, and so the familiar cycle of procrastination and despondency continues. The second is, quite simply, I haven’t felt very Christmassy.

Christmas is usually my favourite time of year. I love everything about it, from the music to the overpowering gingerbread-infused drinks at Starbucks. But more than that, it’s a time I get to spend with my family. I don’t see them often since making the questionable decision to move down south, to a place where strangers don’t say hello to each other and you can’t even get gravy on your chips. But Christmas is the one time of year my family and I all come together, consume lots of food and drink and just take a break from life and its stresses. Obviously, I knew this year would be different. And as a result I haven’t felt the excitement I normally would this time of year. With yesterday’s revelation from the government thrown into the mix, I’m struggling to stay positive during a time that should be full of joy and hope.

There’s a good chance that people reading this find themselves in a similar position. Many of us are doing our best to adjust to a Christmas unlike any we’ve experienced before. Others may feel not much has changed, and there are some who always find this time of year difficult for many reasons. Sadly, for many of us, Christmas will not be 2020’s redemption arc. For those who are struggling, I’ve written a few self-care tips to help with coping this Christmas. Please bear in mind that I’m no professional; if you need urgent support you can find helpful links at the end of this article.

This is for anyone who’s finding it hard to be merry right now, but I’ve also written it as a reminder to myself. Remember to stay positive, it’s only one day of the year, and no matter what it’s always possible to make the best of a bad situation.

Prioritise what’s best for you

It’s okay to prioritise ourselves sometimes. So do whatever you need to do to make this Christmas the best it can be, whatever that may be. If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the stresses of making dinner, put your feet up and watch telly. If you don’t fancy another game of charades, take some quiet time to yourself. If you’re not in the mood for celebrating at all, make Christmas a whole day of relaxation. Above all, look after yourself and consider letting others know what you need if it helps.

Focus on the positives

Even if your Christmas is shaping up to be not the best, there are always positives to focus on. Good things, even ones that seem small and insignificant, can help us build a more optimistic outlook. If you’re facing Christmas alone this year, concentrate on the things that make you happy. This could be anything, from watching your favourite TV show to investing time in a hobby you enjoy. Practising gratitude is also a good way to reduce stress, improve self-esteem and build resilience. So if you’re spending Christmas with people in your household, try to be grateful for the company you have rather than dwelling on those you can’t see this year. I know it can be hard, but practising positive thinking is a huge help.

Talk to other people

If you’re spending this Christmas with others, make sure you communicate your feelings and needs. Don’t feel ashamed to ask for some time to yourself if you start to find things overwhelming. If you’re struggling to cope, let people know what they can do to help. This may be a tricky one if you’re on your own this Christmas, but whatever your circumstances, try to reach out to others. Perhaps give your family and friends a call or play games over Zoom. Remember, if you need urgent support you can find links at the bottom of this article.

Activities for wellbeing

There are plenty of activities you can do to support your own wellbeing. Something as simple as going for a walk and getting outdoors can benefit your mental and physical health. Perhaps you find meditation a helpful tool, or perhaps you find solace in trying something new, learning new recipes and trying different hobbies. There are lots of options when it comes to practising self-care, so try a few different ideas. It’s important to remember that some will work for you and others won’t, try not to put pressure on yourself.

Postpone plans

If, like me, you’re disappointed that your usual Christmas plans won’t go ahead this year; try to think of them as postponed rather than cancelled. Eventually, things will be back to normal again. There will be other opportunities to celebrate and be with our loved ones. Consider making plans for next year, even if they happen in the summer, this will give you something to look forward to and feel positive about. Repeat to yourself: this is not permanent. Things will get better.

After taking time to reflect on my feelings, I have made some peace with this year’s difficult Christmas. I’m sad and disappointed, and that’s okay, but I’m focussing on taking care of myself and remembering that I still have so much to be grateful for. I hope you’ve found some comfort in this article, as it’s been a tough year and you are so strong for making it through each day. Now all that’s left to say is a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all. Let’s make the most of it.

Many people find Christmas a difficult time even without a pandemic. If you need support for your mental health, please use the links below:

Samaritans – Call 116 123 for free

Mind Charity – Christmas coping tips

Anxiety UK

NHS Mental Health Helplines

OK Rehab

One comment

  1. Great post, really helpful tips to get us all through this 🙂


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