Welp. It’s official: Christmas is going to look a little different this year. The latest restrictions from the governments around the UK (especially here in Wales..!) mean that for many of us, Christmas definitely won’t be like usual. Maybe you were ready for that anyway. The way 2020’s been, Christmas was never going to be exactly the way it has before, but maybe these latest announcements and new rules have knocked you for six. I know when I heard the news, I felt a pang of panic, paired up with a touch of frustration and a dash of despair for good measure. But today’s a new day, and I’m determined to take control of the things that I can control. So I thought I’d share the thoughts I’ve had with you, in the hope they might help you too!
Before I dive in though: it might be the case that Christmas generally isn’t the best time of year for you. That’s ok too. You may find this post helpful: A guide to surviving Christmas if you don’t like Christmas
Of course I’m gonna open with this. We shout about it year round here at HATW! But it’s extra important during the holiday season, and especially now, given the weird circumstances we find ourselves in. The new restrictions are in place to protect our physical health, so it’s totally ok to put some guidelines in place for protecting your mental health. And one of those guidelines should be that if you need to take some time out for some self-care, you can. Do the things that help you feel better – and if you want some ideas for things to try, check out this page packed full of ideas!
Remember, self-care doesn’t always have to be pretty. Sometimes it’s about taking it back to basics! We’ve got a video about that. Watch it below!
Hey, speaking of setting aside time to do self-care and look after your mental health: don’t feel pressured to see people. I guess this one works in general too. If there are negative people in your life, it’s ok to not spend so much time with them. Of course, sometimes that’s out of your control, and if you do have to spend time with people who might be triggering for you, make sure you take some time to unwind after. You could even try and have some things in place for while you’re around them – something like a fidget cube or a notepad you could sketch in to help keep your hands and brain busy, and get you through that time.
But in particular this year, there might be people in your family who are planning on not following the new restrictions, and that might make you feel super uncomfortable. If that’s the case, don’t be afraid to be assertive, and know that you can say no. If it’s someone you really wish you could see properly, you can always make a plan to see them at another, safer time. You could even have Christmas 2 (Christmas 2: Electric Boogaloo) in July or something!
Plus, 2020 is the year that we all got very acquainted with video calling. You can still Zoom, FaceTime or Skype folks! I know it’s not quite the same as the real thing, but you can still connect with people, which is kinda the most important bit. And it can just be a placeholder til you can have 2Christ2Mas in July. (I’ll stop trying to squeeze in sequel titles for Christmas 2 now, don’t worry).
A big part of Christmas for so many people is the traditions, rituals & routine that come with it. And of course, this year, a lot of those traditions won’t be able to take place. But that routine, and that structure that comes along with routine is important! It means you’re not just sat with your thoughts, or feeling a bit lost. So this year, do what you can. You can still watch Christmas movies. Or make hot chocolate & wear fluffy socks. Going for a walk is still something you could do (and you’d get bonus physical resilience points for going for a walk..!)
Try to give yourself some sort of structure through Christmas Day. It doesn’t have to be super rigid. Just having a vague plan of when you’ll wake up, when you’ll eat lunch, when you’ll go for a walk, then have a bath, hot chocolate & bed etc, can give you that sense of familiar rituals from Christmas past, but also give you little things to look forward to throughout the day.
Sure, presents are great. But if you’re finding yourself locked down right now, and not able to finish buying the gifts you would’ve liked to get: it’s ok. It’s just stuff. The vast majority of us are all in the same situation, and people will understand. So don’t beat yourself up by worrying about letting anyone down. It’s ok. If you’ve not been able to get a present for someone, gift them with your presence (via Zoom/FaceTime!). You don’t have to put yourself at risk by trying to rush out to the shops, and you don’t have to spend money on stuff.
If you really wanted to gift something to someone, you could always make something & give it to them next time you see them! Home made cookies are a great gift (just in case anyone wanted to drop any to the HATW shop in Cardiff whenever we open back up..! 👀)
So just to wrap this up 👈 Brilliant Christmas related joke
I’ll leave you with another sentiment that rings true all year round. You’re not alone. You’re locked down, and not able to see the people you wanna see/do the stuff you wanna do? So are millions of other people. We’re all in the same boat, and no-one knows all the answers. But we can be here for each other. Even if that means video calls rather than the real thing! Be brave & be honest about how you’re feeling. Chances are, someone in your social sphere is feeling the same way. And if you’re in a good place, be there for someone who’s having a harder time right now!
There are some amazing helplines who are there 24/7, 365 too – even on Christmas Day. These folks are there to listen to you, whatever you’re facing. So even if you feel like you have no-one to talk to around you, there’s always someone. Please please reach out if you’re struggling, no matter what it is you’re facing.
I guess most importantly of all, just be kind to yourself. Remember, these are unprecedented times we’re living in, and some days, just getting out of bed is a win. At the end of the day, Christmas is just another day. By not putting too much pressure on it, or yourself, you’ll hopefully be able to navigate this weird version of the holiday season a little easier.
Hello! Hi! 👋 Just in case you’re new here: we’re Heads Above The Waves! Find out a bit more about who we are and what we do in under 3 minutes on the video below!👇