How to get through Christmas 2020

I think it’s fair to say that many people are dreading Christmas of 2020.

It’s been a rotten year, yes, and to add more rottenness, lockdown means that many people won’t be able to see their loved ones.

You might already know this but I’m not the biggest fan of Christmas. I’ve spent many Christmases alone and this doesn’t really bother me, but this year has been especially isolating. If you live with chronic illness, chances are you’re used to some degree of isolation, but this year has taken it to a whole new level.

I’m struggling with my mental health more than usual and I know others are too. Here’s my little list of how to get through the holiday if you’re on your own or feeling rotten about everything.

We've all lost so much this year. I still can't believe my Ma is gone. For all we've lost, let's be kind to ourselves and others and be thankful for what we have; while we hope for brighter days. Share on X
  1. Do it your way (yes, forget tradition)
    Christmas makes me nostalgic, for things past, and lost. People too. Being the emotional wreck I am, I usually make some preparations depending on what I think my mood will be. Honestly, I tend to be melancholy so I treat it like any other day (even if it doesn’t feel that way). I stock up on some of my favourite treats (and ditch my diet) and watch feel good movies and just chill out. When I’m tired I don’t shy away from sleeping the day out. Point is, listen to your body and what you’re feeling and just do what you want.
  2. Do something nice for yourself
    Whether it’s a nice bubble bath, treating yourself to a little gift or just not giving into pressure to do something you don’t want to do, do something nice for you.
  3. Don’t zoom yourself out
    This year I feel zoomed out. I have so many Zoom and MS Teams meetings during the week for work that by weekend I have no energy for zoom. Connecting with loved ones is important, but if you also get drained by all the video calls, there’s nothing wrong with a traditional phone call, or just postpone to another time. Connect with support groups online – I find this less taxing than video calls – shout out to my fibromyalgia facebook support groups and all my Twitter buddies!

  4. Find comfort in things that bring you joy
    Eat that special treat and not think of the calories; listen to music, dance in your bedroom to non-Christmas music! cook, laugh with your bestie on a video chat, speak with your neighbour from across the fence, or play with your animal friends. Whatever brings you joy, just do that. Try not to think of what we don’t have and be thankful for what we do.
  5. Find hope
    I’ll admit, when my mental health is as volatile as it is, it can be hard to remember that there’s hope. Sometimes, I just go outside and look at the wonder of nature, I ponder on how things grow and how night turns to day. I marvel at my neighbour’s cat or I watch the Instagram videos of beautiful animals being cute. I pray. Sometimes I sing whatever song is in my heart, and I just let my feelings spill out. Sometimes I cry, until I have no tears left, and even that reminds me that nothing lasts. Things won’t always be like this. Try to remember that by looking for the many positive reminders of hope all around us.

We’ve all lost so much this year. I still can’t believe my Ma is gone. For all we’ve lost, let’s be kind to ourselves and others and be thankful for what we have; while we hope for brighter days.

If you’re struggling and need someone to talk to over the holidays don’t suffer in silence. Here are a few places you can call on:

Samaritans
Mind
NHS list of UK based mental health charities

Gentle hugs. Remember to look out for one another xx

 

Photo by Annie Spratt
Photo by Anna Popović

4 Replies to “How to get through Christmas 2020”

  1. I am properly grateful but…
    This Christmas has been really hard. I’ve been Skyped, I’ve had a stocking and a dinner and presents delivered. My daughters have been wonderful and understanding but how can I explain to other people that I didn’t have a ‘merry’ Christmas. Why do people even expect that? I’ve come to think there is a complete lack of imagination out there. Oh dear ‘we’ll be alone’ they say: there is a difference between ‘me’ and ‘we’. I usually do more than I should and in many ways I could relax, read and eat (daughters checked I was doing this) but I felt lonely, not jolly and this was in a way I didn’t expect. I’m used to being alone but this rubbed it in. I’m not sorry to say goodbye to Christmas 2020 nor to 2020 altogether. Thank goodness for my close family, even distanced. As for the rest, I guess there’s nothing for it but to say “goodbye Mrs People pleaser” and hello to a realistic New Year.

    1. I’m sorry to hear you felt so lonely Victoria. I can relate a little to what you’re saying. I spent the day alone and tried to sleep for as much of it as possible, hoping it would go by faster. People are always surprised when I say I’m not big on Christmas and I no longer try to meet people’s expectations. It’s silly for people to expect we would all have a ‘merry christmas.’ I had one video call yesterday which I declined along with other requests for video calls, as I just wasn’t feeling in the mood and I don’t want to pretend. Let’s hope 2021 will bring brighter days for us. Sending warm wishes your way x

  2. Thank you for your kind reply. I do hope the next few months will lift the weight off us and we can find pleasure in the small things again. I have noticed that the symptoms of ‘long covid’ sound an awful lot like Fibromyalgia. Maybe the understanding of that and attention to it will help us all, I intend to keep watching this as people find it easier to grasp. I usually say I’ve had it since shingles but in fact it has been a whole lot longer. Look after yourself and don’t forget that it’s your courage getting you through.

    1. Thanks Victoria 🙏🏽 Really appreciate the encouragement. I’m always here if you need a friend
      D too. Hopeful that things will get better for us. I noted too what you said about the symptoms of long covid and always think to myself this is what we live with everyday. Hopefully it will help raise awareness. Perhaps now is the time for us to speak up more about fibromyalgia. Keep well my friend and stay in touch x

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