This blog was originally posted in 2015 in the lead up to Christmas. As this Christmas period is particularly challenging for so many due to the Covid-19 pandemic, I am reposting it with further thoughts on how you can get through this holiday period:
This time of year can evoke a range of feelings in most of us from anticipation of being with loved ones, through to the dread of Christmas past revisiting us either literally or figuratively. Whilst some of us may have a festive and positive outlook on Christmas and look forward to spending time with friends and family, for many it is a time filled with conflicting emotions. Some of us have difficult memories associated with Christmas and family gatherings.
The pandemic and associates restrictions – unthinkable a mere 12 months ago – have impacted all of our lives and undoubtedly will impact on all of our Christmas’. Many of us will be unable to see friends and family, travel or celebrate in the ways we wish. And for many, the feelings of loneliness and isolation will be amplified.
Going through sad and difficult times without ignoring or suppressing feelings can be a challenge. When working with my clients around grief, loss and relationship issues I tend to be curious and ask questions about what they are experiencing and really honour those feelings, after all, they are there for a reason. In the absence of an experienced professional to guide you through this process, here are some ideas to help you not only cope, but make the most out of a challenging time.
Listen to your body
This doesn’t mean act impulsively. It is more about listening for what the vulnerable part of your needs. This may be a hot bath with a good book, a warm drink by the fire, a nice home-cooked meal or spending time with a supportive friend. It could also be a long run, or a dance or yoga class. Whatever self-care tool helps you feel well and connected.
This matters more this year than ever before. The ‘traditional’ idea of what Christmas should be is largely absent this year and we are all being made to challenge our expectations about what Christmas 2020 will be for us. However, even in the midst of the pandemic, the restrictions, anxiety, fear and frustration, we all have the opportunity and the choice to consider what will make Christmas and this holiday period meaningful for us.
Spend Time Reflecting
The end of the year can be a good opportunity to review and reflect on the past year. Reflections on your present life in terms of what is going well and what could be improved on is a good starting point. Are you following your dreams and aspirations? How are you contributing to causes that you care about? What are some of your wishes for the future? Where would you like to see yourself this time next year?
Make Positive Decisions
Many people come to psychotherapy to reflect on and improve their lives with the support of an impartial other. It is never too late to become more self-aware and make significant changes in the areas of your life that you are not happy with. Whether you are experiencing grief, going through relationship issues, depression, anxiety or feeling stuck in your life, an experienced counsellor or psychotherapist will explore those feelings with you in a supportive, interested and non-judgemental way.
Wishing all a relaxing holiday and a fruitful year ahead with an eye on this pandemic ending and us all being able to come together freely once again.
Sam Jahara is a UKCP Registered Psychotherapist with a special interest in working with issues linked to cultural identity and a sense of belonging. She works with individuals and couples in Hove and Lewes.
Further reading by Sam Jahara