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  • Writer's pictureAnneka Barrett

How to cope with a Christmas like no other

Christmas is coming! Under normal circumstances this is my favourite time of year. I like the ritual of Christmas, the lights on the high street, the gingerbread lattes, catching up with people, and of course, putting up the tree. Every year is the same, and I like that. This year will be different. For everyone. There will be those of you who find Christmas a hard time of year, pandemic or not. The expectations we put on both ourselves and others are different at Christmas. Even with all that joy and cheer in the air it can still be challenging. Today's article is about taking time to think about what you need to get through the next few weeks and get the most out of the festive period.

2020 Specific

Christmas will be different this year, as a lot of things have been. Even with hope on the horizon, it doesn’t change the fact that you won’t have the Christmas you imagined. Allow yourself time to honour the grief you feel about what you are missing. Give yourself permission to be sad, disappointed, or whatever you are feeling. It is OK to be hopeful for next year and sad for what you are missing right now.

Take time to plan how you will ‘see’ people or do your Christmas shopping. I am grateful we are experiencing this pandemic in the time of the internet when we can video call and online shop. It is not the same, but it is important you still spend time with your loved ones even if it’s over Zoom.

Look for ways to meet up if you are permitted. There are still some areas in which face-to-face gatherings are allowed. There is also the option of festive walks or outdoor meet-ups. Get those fabulous winter accessories out!

Christmas is always a hard time

If Christmas tends to be a hard time for you, Covid or not, it is still important to give yourself time to think about what you need to get through the next few weeks.

If you are someone who experiences triggers at this time of year, think about what help you need when that happens and ensure you have this help in place. If it is places or events that are your triggers, think about ways in which you can limit your exposure.

Christmas is often a time of year where we often find ourselves taking on too much. This is definitely a problem I know I will be working on this year. Do only what you REALLY need to do. Does it matter if the gifts don’t have bows or if the gravy has a few lumps? Remember it’s one day. Ensure you put some time aside for yourself. Have a read of my blog from last week on getting to know your boundaries.

Sometimes there is a particular question you may be dreading being asked by family members or have someone in your life with the subtlety of a sledgehammer. Think ahead of what you would like your response to be, or perhaps a respectful way to shut down the conversation if it does turn towards something you don’t want to talk about. Respecting your own boundaries is important.

Looking after yourself at this time of year is important. You can not pour from an empty cup. Be aware this time doesn’t last forever, in some cases it may be helpful for you to give Christmas a start and end point. After the end point know that it is time to return to a more normal rhythm, and take some space for you.

If this time of year is too much for you and recommendations are not enough, talk to someone. Help is out there, keep the samaritans number somewhere close by, in the UK it is 116 123.

I wish you all a peaceful festive period. Remember whatever you are going though you are not alone.

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