For many of us it’s been a tough time with family members perhaps in differing tiers to us, lockdown number 2 and a general sense of enough is enough, yet still mustering the energy to keep safe and keep healthy by following the guidelines.
December can be a mixed bag of emotions even without going through a pandemic so how can we take care of ourselves and ensure we have some fun, stay safe and make the most of the 5-day window over the Christmas week?
I’ve put together some tips, suggestions and guidance to help you feel in control and more like yourself. After all, you’ve been back and forwards and up and down this year already.
You may be desperate to see loved ones this year and intend to stay over to maximise the visiting window, then again you may also have that familiar sense of dread if you generally don’t get on with family or feel pressured to stay longer than you want to. This coupled with Covid-19 still being among us, how can you find the right balance?
That’s exactly what it’s about- balance! There’s still plenty of time to decide who is in which bubble, who you want to see, and who you’d like to spend the most time with- and that can include yourself!
- Make a list of family or friends that you can reasonably and safely contact with.
- You won’t be able to see everyone as usual so make that list count.
- Plan out your time, factoring in time for yourself- it’s likely to be emotional this year, perhaps more so that you might be expecting, so downtime and reflection time will be really important to carve out in order to keep yourself grounded and steady.
- You may feel emotionally burnout even if you are able to plan in time alone- it’s perfectly OK; don’t be hard on yourself nor expect too much of keeping a stiff upper lip, holding it together or feeling like you shouldn’t be sad or could be happier- remember we haven’t ever been through a pandemic Christmas before so we have no way of knowing the impact on our feelings and emotions. Be kind to yourself and allow what you feel- don’t deny it. It’s likely those around you will be feeling similar after so long apart.
- You’ll still need to keep a distance and carry out your hygiene routine; make sure those that you intend to visit can offer you a safe and sanitised space and respect your wishes on the matter. Remember to pack what you need to keep safe; this may include your mask, hand gel, antibacterial wipes etc.
- It will be hard to maintain ‘Hands, Safe, Space’ in a family/ friend Christmas environment but it will be crucial to still do all you can to keep yourself and others safe.
- If your visiting plan swirls down the drain don’t fret! Do what you can, be aware of your comfort levels and if you need a break or need to leave then that is OK. This period is also about joy and happiness for ourselves, not just others. If you anticipate you might need time out then make that part of your conversations with family and friends now- so that if it does arise you don’t need to address it- it will just be accepted. The importance of communication in these times can’t be underestimated.
- For those of us accustomed to living alone or having Christmas alone then consider how to factor in the things that make you smile, if you do have people you can reach out to then make those plans. If you enjoy the time to yourself then ensure they day/ week is about everything you love and hold dear- whether that’s eating your favourite foods, a drop of your favourite drink, treasured movies or nostalgic tunes. Anything that brings you comfort and support that will be make the day feel special.
It’s been an incredibly hard year and more and more people are reporting being drawn to earlier Christmas celebrations or holding on to religious festivals in order to feel normal, love and closer to communities and faith. December is generally a very sensitive month where we look back, ruminate on the year and start to look forward into the next year. I’d encourage you to try to celebrate in a way that makes you smile, look back at the positives, remember the people we have lost over the years and also experiment with ‘staying in the moment.’
Whatever your December looks like, make sure you are at the heart of your decisions.