We all have a tough Christmas from time to time. We have years we remember as months full of pain and grief or unexpected sorrow and loss. Christmas time can be full of sadness following such an experience. But this year, because of COVID-19, more of us than usual will find Christmas difficult.
Effects of COVID-19
COVID-19 killed people. There will be empty places at Christmas celebrations because of the virus. Families will mourn the death of mothers and fathers, children, grandparents. Friends will experience sadness at the loss of people they cared for.
The pandemic also means that members of families will be separated. Parents, children and grandchildren may be unable to visit each other because of hard borders, restrictions on movement, people stranded in other countries or in quarantine.
Jobs have been lost. Businesses, thriving this time last year, now find themselves struggling or crashed. Unemployment, perhaps a new experience for some families, means less money to spend.
Isolation wreaks havoc on many couples. Relationships disintegrated under the strain.
Family and domestic violence and suicide numbers increased in 2020.
Quarantine, isolation, financial stress, unemployment, fear, anxiety and trauma caused increased mental illness in the population.
Suggestions to cope with a tough Christmas
Advent is the season for preparation for Christmas. I wrote about Advent in happier times.
Instead of doing all the things we usually do at Christmas, maybe this year we could think about Christmas differently. Perhaps we can change in this area as we have in so many other ways in 2020.
Here are a few suggestions.
- Keep things simple.
- Be gentle with yourself and kind to others.
- Avoid stress as much as possible. Say, ‘No’ other’s expectations and demands if you want or need to.
- Don’t isolate yourself, however tempting that may be. Spend time with yourself and with others.
- Talk to a friend (or a counsellor) about your hurts and fears and losses. Tell them why this will be a tough Christmas for you.
- Look after yourself. Don’t self-medicate or drink too much.
- Get some exercise every day even if it is only a walk around the block.
- Don’t expect too much. Expectations can lead to the pain of disappointment and put pressure on others.
- Keep gift-giving simple. Don’t overspend or rack up credit card debt.
- The Christmas menu doesn’t need to be elaborate or expensive. Keep it simple for a tough Christmas.
- Decorate in small, comforting ways. Perhaps make a tiny Christmas tree or put up a nativity scene. Light a candle or two.
- Send a card or note to someone you’ve neglected or someone you miss.
- Take part in a Christmas ritual if you find that comforting. Perhaps carols in a park, or a church service.
- Be kind to yourself and those around you.
Each evening until Christmas, find three things to be grateful for. Ask yourself these questions:
‘What am I grateful for being today?’ (How you looked, a value or a character that you showed during the day).
‘What am I grateful for enjoying today?’ (An activity, a special moment, a kindness you received or gave).
‘What am I grateful that I did today?’ (A visit to someone, a gift you gave, how you handled a tough Christmas moment).
Write down the answers.
I welcome suggestions and ideas from readers. Please add in the comments.