So Covid stole your Christmas – now what?

an illustration of a couple having christmas dinner

Covid cases are sky-high – thanks, Omicron – and that means for many, the Christmas they’d planned has once again been cancelled.

People up and down the nation are isolating or scaling back on celebrations in a bid to protect their loved ones and their most vital holiday plans.

When we found out my partner and I were going to have to isolate over Christmas this year, and we weren’t going to be able to see our families for the second year in a row, I was crushed.

But rather than spending between seven and ten days wallowing in the rubble of your shattered festive dreams, it’s important not to waste the veritable dopamine mine that is the festive season, if you’re feeling up to it.

Jess Martin, party expert at Ginger Ray, says: ‘While it may feel disappointing for your Christmas plans to be halted, this could be the perfect time to relax with no pressure and embrace an unconventional Christmas.

‘It’s important to try and not allow isolating to dampen your Christmas spirit, and that you make the most of the festivities, so Christmas 2021 is one to remember… for the right reasons.’

To do this, Counselling Directory member Elizabeth Jamieson says we should still make time for the things that really matter most to us at Christmas.

‘Do you love the food?’ she asks. ‘Make sure you still cook, even if it is just for one rather than the whole family.

‘If it is the decorations, decorate as normal for your own benefit, you can always email a photo of your tree to loved ones.’

When it comes to decorations, Jess suggests opting for reusable ones, adding that a rustic vibe is big this year.

She adds: ‘If you’re not up for going all out since there’s no one to impress, then I’d definitely recommend you start with lighting to make your space feel cosy, comforting and that little bit more festive.

‘You can create some mood lighting by draping string lights over surfaces.’

Counselling Directory member Claire Black says adding festive structure to our days is key.

‘For example watching your favourite Christmas comedy, having a relaxing bath, or eating your favourite Christmas snacks,’ she tells us.

‘Keep Christmas traditions alive where you can,’ she adds. ‘They are likely to spark some of the joy you felt as a child for Christmas and bring some magic to the season.’ 

Claire also wants to remind us that it’s important to make time for family and friends, explaining: ‘Mental health doesn’t take a Christmas break so reach out to family and friends wherever possible on video call, phone, text to help alleviate feeling isolated from others. 

‘If you are struggling, talk to someone; either family, friends or a service such as Samaritans. You don’t have to be holding everything together just because it’s Christmas.’

Elizabeth says getting outside, if you’re allowed, can also help boost your spirits

She adds: ‘You may be surprised how many others will have the same idea.

‘A socially distanced greeting can be a great cure for feelings of loneliness too.’

If you’re finding it hard not to worry this Christmas, Claire recommends just checking the news once a day and setting yourself 20 minutes of ‘worry time’.

‘Worry about it as much as you like during that time,’ she explains. ‘If these worrying thoughts come up during the rest of the day gently remind yourself of your scheduled worry time and “park” those thoughts until then.

‘This helps to stop the feeling that worry has taken over the whole day.’

Claire says the most important thing we can do is make sure we still give our negative feelings the room they need.

‘It’s totally acceptable to feel devastated, sad, lonely, crushed, guilty, or even relieved, happy and anything in between,’ she goes on. ‘You don’t have to be full of joy just because it’s Christmas, and it’s completely natural and normal not to be.

‘Don’t expect too much from yourself. If you are trying to provide a nice Christmas for children or relatives that are isolating with you, just do what you can do, be kind yourself and accept it’s not going to be perfect.’

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