How to put 2020 out of your mind this Christmas12/24/2020
2020 has been doozy of a year and, what’s worse, it’s not over yet.
The constant dread that goes along with living in a virus-ridden dumpster fire for nigh on 12 months naturally brings its fair share of worries and mental health problems.
But, regardless of accusations that the Government ‘cancelled christmas’, time has an annoying habit of relentlessly marching on.
Whether you’re in tier four or not, Christmas is coming, and many will be trying to put the disastrous events of this year out of their minds so that they can squeeze some enjoyment out of it.
Counselling Directory member Karen Schumann says: ‘I think it is absolutely beneficial to our mental health to focus on Christmas rather than 2020.
‘It has been such a hard year and we all need a little light at the end of what has been a very dark tunnel. We need to all switch off, if only for one day, and experience joy, hope and laughter again!’
So how do we go about pushing a chaotic time we’re still very much in to the back of our minds?
Counselling Directory member Avraam Karagiannis tells us Christmas is inherently escapist, making it particularly important for those who celebrate this year.
He says: ‘Christmas for me is about trying to live in the moment, doing things that we wouldn’t usually do at other times of the year.
‘In some ways it is a form of escapism from everyday life, a distraction from the routines and challenges we endure throughout the year.
‘That is arguably more important this year than ever before because 2020 has been a year like no other with major disruptions to our lives and restrictions on who we can see and what we can do.
‘Even if we can’t get together with those we care about and enjoy spending time with, it is so important for our psychological wellbeing that we do not give up the chance to live in the moment that is Christmas; whether it’s in person – if we are allowed to – or via video or phone call, to celebrate and share stories, food, love and laughter.’
When it comes to making a concerted effort to switch off from the events of the year, Avraam recommends: ‘Be kind to yourselves and try to give permission to yourself to enjoy the day despite the challenges and uncertainties you might be facing.
‘Consider the idea of not doing things that will make you feel unhappy or guilty. If the news makes you feel negative, consider not watching it. Also consider the idea of talking to people that will make you smile.
‘If it means that you can eat your favourite food, then perhaps do that. Listen to your favourite music and dance if you feel like it.
‘As social media has become such a big part of our lives, it is worth exploring the idea of having a social media detox day.
‘This would mean that you can avoid negative material but also avoid people who are posting happy experiences, especially if your circumstances mean that you are home alone and unhappy. By avoiding comparing yourselves to others it might also help to stay in the moment and be able to enjoy what it is that you have around you.
‘What’s really important is self-care. The idea that we can value ourselves enough so that we can say to ourselves “I matter, and I deserve to be happy”.’
Karen says: ‘The best advice I could give to be more in the moment on the day would be to try to keep busy and focus on doing things you usually enjoy on Christmas Day; you may have to get creative!
‘We are very fortunate to have the internet, so let’s make good use of it! Try to organise online quizzes with family and friends to break up the day and video call those that you would have usually seen this year.
‘You could go for a walk, play some music that makes you happy and watch movies that really give you that feel good factor. Really try and allow yourself time to relax and de-stress to let go of some anxiety, and recognise getting though a tough year.
‘If you have lost loved ones this year, you could find a way to honour them on Christmas Day, perhaps by lighting a candle or raising a glass to them. If you do find yourself feeling sad, perhaps allow yourself to take a few moments during the day, and then come back and be present again.
‘This is the time of year to think about all the things we do have and not what we don’t have.’
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