With more countries experiencing a second wave of COVID-19 some people might be a bit nervous to reunite with family for Christmas.
This will be yet another blow to people already suffering loneliness and isolation after a year of limited contact with loved ones, leading to a sense of grief as people come to terms with the possible cancellation of much-anticipated reunions.
Grief counsellor Lianna Champ told Femail: ‘Being apart goes against all our instincts and families are yearning to celebrate together, especially at the end of such a dreadful year.
‘The run-up to Christmas can feel totally daunting when you are on your own. With the added burden of the pandemic and uncertainty for the future, the loneliness can feel all-consuming and the days seem to stretch ahead.
‘You may want to run for cover and let Christmas completely pass you by but if you rail against the unfairness, the legacy of family love becomes lost, not only to others, but to you too. You have a duty to yourself and those in your life to keep going.’
Here Lianna reveals coping strategies to help people get through a solo Christmas, saying: ‘We cannot change what is, but we can change how we feel about it.’
Harness your determination
Sometimes in our moments of loneliness, we withdraw into our own private place, and our thoughts can go round and round endlessly and it can feel there is no end.
There is an old proverb that says ‘It is the lifted face that feels the shining of the sun”.
If we really think about that, it means that we have to make the effort, to find an inner spark, a determination not to sink.
To harness a discipline and force ourselves to make changes and create good habits so that we feel better about ourselves.
Also, an acceptance that we cannot always control events that separate us, like the pandemic. We cannot change what is, but we can change how we feel about it.
Have a go-to person
Have a go-to person who you can lean on when you are really struggling. Sharing how you feel is one of the healthiest things you can do. Find others who are feeling alone too, as it helps to know that we are not completely alone. We have to communicate when we are struggling so we can have our ‘grief’ time. We all need this.
Do things differently
Push the boundaries and do things completely different this year – for instance, spend the day in your PJs if you normally dress up. Doing things differently will make us feel different. Make a conscious decision to reset the Christmas spirit button and make this a Christmas you’ll remember for different, positive reasons if you can.
Self-care is paramount
Climb into a nice hot bath and relax. A hot bath is really nurturing especially with some aromatherapy bubbles and candles. Why not go for a walk on Christmas morning? Gentle exercise and fresh air is a great way to help lift our mood – even if you have to force yourself, you will feel better afterwards.
Eat and drink well, diet is important in keeping us physically and mentally well, and be wary of short term relievers such as too much alcohol and junk food.
Embrace the quiet times
Isolation presents an opportunity to slow down, pause and reflect. There is much learning to be had in meditation and quite times. When the pandemic is over, life is likely to return to pre-Covid levels of franticness, so embrace this opportunity to do things more slowly.
Focus on what you can control
As we approach the end of any year, we turn our thoughts to changes we would like to make. Although we now have a vaccine for the virus we cannot tell what 2021 will bring. So, focus on what you can control – make a resolution to tend to yourself emotionally.
Really think about things that make you feel good or perhaps try something you have always wanted to do – maybe a new hobby, painting, singing etc.
Share your feelings
Sharing your feelings with someone you trust and feel safe with is one of the best things you can do. It is a powerful release and can help to reduce some of the weight of your loneliness. Make it your resolution to share, as this helps us to stop isolating ourselves and reconnects us with the people in our lives.
Journalling can be a wonderfully therapeutic activity. Find a lovely notebook and write down your feelings, thoughts, ramblings, whatever – no-one else will read this unless you want them to, so be honest. As human beings our emotions are constantly fluctuating, by writing down our feelings, we may begin to recognise patterns and can then identify times and triggers that we can avoid.