The Santa Pause: How to cope with a Covid Christmas


This is not a normal year by any stretch of the imagination. There was a vague glimmer of hope that we could all celebrate Christmas with our families after the trials of 2020; something to look forward to after a year of restrictions, tiers and tears. For many of us, following the recent rise in Covid cases, local and international travel bans, and the new Tier 4 rules, this won’t be the case any more. Christmas has, in effect, been ‘cancelled’.

But just because we can’t do what were originally planning to, or celebrate the festive season in a conventional manner, with the people we wanted to, it doesn’t mean that the holidays are over. Christmas is much more than one day – whether or not you celebrate it, there are things we can all do over the coming weeks to survive a Covid Christmas.

1. Keep things in perspective

Yes – it’s a rubbish end to a rubbish year, but it’s important to look at the bigger picture. With the vaccine rollout having started, a light at the end of the tunnel is finally in sight. Accept that this year it WILL be different – but it won’t be different forever. Christmas comes around each year, and we need to remember that we’ll have plenty of opportunities to celebrate with friends and family in the future.

2. Focus on the positives

In limiting your contact, and not travelling, you are doing a great thing. Sure, there are lots of people who won’t follow the governement guidelines, for whatever reason, but if you’re facing a smaller Christmas than planned, know you are doing it to keep people safe and healthy.

Think of the next few weeks as a period of rest and relaxation – watch those movies you’ve been meaning to, start the pile of books, try your hand at a new language, or finally attempt the sourdough. If we try and see this period as a time for restoration, slowing down, and enjoying things we don’t ordinarily have time for – instead of a ‘missed’ Christmas – we may see it in a slightly more positive light.

3. Keep in touch with friends and family

If you’re not completely Zoom-fatigued, a video call is a great way to feel close to your family and friends. Why not mix it up and play some games, too?

Many of us are frankly fed up of staring at a screen — here, a good old phone call is a good idea – combine it with a walk, and you’ll kill two birds with one stone. If you live close to a friend, catch up outside – whether in a local park, or just a walk round the block. Make sure you keep connected, and don’t let yourself get too isolated.

4. Get outside

Sunshine may be in low supply in December, but it’s important to get outside every day – whatever the weather. Not only will the fresh air do you good, but the change of scene and movement will be much needed, whether on foot, or two wheels. Pop on a podcast, or call a friend – why not try a new route, or aim for a new destination? Even if you just take your flask of tea to a park bench, being in the open air – and, if possible, nature – will be a welcome break, and will ensure you don’t feel too claustrophobic.

5. Make new traditions

If you’re not able to follow your normal traditions – as many of us won’t this year – try not to dwell on it. Instead, this is Christmas to try something different. Whether you’re spending the festive break with someone new, or are in a different place than usual, now is the opportunity to break the mould. Sharing Christmas day with a flatmate from another country? Get involved with their national traditions, and see what you can learn! Never really liked turkey anyway? Venture out and have something different!

6. Don’t put too much pressure on yourself

It doesn’t have to be the perfect Christmas. In fact, it probably won’t be. Don’t feel you have to pull out all the stops, be super cheerful, pretend everything is fine. If all you want to do is have pizza in your pyjamas, go for it. This year is a difficult year: you don’t have to present an insta-perfect Christmas – you don’t even have to enjoy it. All you have to do is get through it. And if you enter 2021 thinking, ‘well, Christmas wasn’t so bad after all’, you’re doing great.

Remember: The festive period is not easy for everyone – even more so this year. If you’re struggling, do reach out to someone who can help you.

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