This time last year you were probably looking forward to Christmas and had never heard of COVID-19. This year, however, we’re all facing a very different kind of festive season. With guidelines changing so often to keep pace with infection rates in different areas, one thing we’ve all had to do is be flexible and adaptable.
What does this mean for Christmas though? We’ve all been affected by the pandemic, but we’re not all in the same boat. Some of us may still be able to buy gifts online and have a small family celebration with members of our own household. Others may be bravely facing their first Christmas without loved ones. Wherever we are and whatever situation we’re facing, there are steps we can take to prioritise our mental health and wellbeing.
Get a move on
Being less active can really affect our health mentally and physically. For those who are able, getting outdoors to enjoy a walk wrapped up in winter woolies can be just the tonic. The NHS has some great ideas for armchair exercises and other fitness tips for those who aren’t able to get outdoors. See nhs.uk/live-well/exercise/sitting-exercises.
We may not be able to socialise in the way we’re used to but it’s amazing how many different social groups you can join from the comfort of your own home, from book clubs and cooking classes to good old family quiz nights. These could be a great way to keep everyone entertained during the Christmas holidays. Why not search online for some new activities so that you can socialise and stay safe at the same time? Or, even better, set up your own!
Sing your heart out
Research by the University of East Anglia found that singing boosts our mental wellbeing. Sadly, it looks like the restrictions on singing in groups will put a stopper on carol services this year, but why not check out what’s happening online in your area through community Facebook pages, or do a Google search for your local church? Having a good sing-along from your sofa means that you can be as loud and as silly as you like while still enjoying some community spirit.
For many, this winter may be a very lonely time, so it’s important that we find ways to connect and help one another out. We may not be allowed to invite friends or neighbours over to the house, but there are other ways to bless them. Perhaps you could do a food shop for an elderly neighbour, or bake biscuits with the kids to deliver to a friend’s door. Helping others is scientifically proven to boost our own mood too.
Give gifts that mean something
Every Christmas, millions of presents in the UK end up being re-gifted or donated to charity. Keep this in mind if you’re feeling under pressure to buy gifts for everyone you know. Research into the psychology of gift giving shows that personal, handmade presents, an experience, or a specially created playlist often say a lot more than a shop-bought present. After a tough year, showing someone that you really know and appreciate them will mean a lot.
Seek help with money worries
Struggling with money can have a severe impact on our mental health, especially at this time of year. Don’t let your Christmas be filled with worry – get help today by contacting an organisation like CAP for free debt help. You can call CAP on 0800 328 0006 or visit capuk.org to find out more.
Christians Against Poverty (CAP) is a UK charity with over 580 services across the country delivering debt counselling, money management, job clubs, life skills groups, and support for people breaking life-controlling dependencies. Visit their website (link above) to find out more.