For most, this time of year is a time for planning and celebrating various festivals and celebrations which bring families and friends together during the winter months. With a second national lockdown over England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, this year’s celebrations will be very different to those we have previously known.
For some of us, religious festivals may change – with Places of Worship operating to different rules. For others, the gatherings and family traditions that accompany times of celebration will be affected. Diwali on 14 November was under the highest lockdown restrictions. It is very likely that there will still be tight restrictions on household gatherings throughout December, affecting people who wish to celebrate Hanukkah, Pancha Ganapti, Kwanzaa, Christmas and New Year. The religious festivals at this time of year celebrate , hope and light – and it is so important that we hold onto the meaning of these celebrations all the more if we cannot mark them in the way we might have in the past. Coping with disappointment, grief and sadness will be very difficult, this year for , practically, everyone. We are in a time where we have technology that can at least help bring families and friends together virtually. Although no where near the same it is the best we have to stay and feel connected. Using video calls and zoom to eat at the same time or playing games and this will help ease the feeling of isolation and physical distance. We will can be more creative in how we celebrate and in future celebrations we will tell the story about how we celebrated in 2020. Who knows, this may well become one of our most cherished memories because we were presented with a pandemic that made us focus on the meaning of our celebrations rather than just following the traditions of our past. Speak to your family and friends now to decide on alternative ways that you can celebrate your chosen festival. We all hope that by the time the occasion arrives that there will be some way of coming together, but the fact is that we don’t know. Making a loose plan is a good idea – but be prepared for it to change as well. Being kind and focusing on the good you can do is a real boost to your mental well being. particularly now when people may be feeling the effect of lockdown restrictions more acutely. Even something simple like sending flowers or a letter about everything you like about the person and how grateful you are for them could really make a difference to someone’s day. Kindness and goodwill is what we are taught the season is and we are presented with the time NOW to live it. In my previous issues, I've spoken about to do a good turn for someone else can also reduce your stress, improve your mood and increase happiness. This year more than most many are facing other pressures and concerns about job and financial security, concern about the health of family and friends, or feeling low because you can’t be physically near people who are important to you, can often be heightened during the festive season.Like myself, this is the first Christmas
without my mother who passed away March 9th 2020 and like myself many are dealing with grief & bereavement, so celebrations can be very difficult. . If you are feeling down, talking to people can lighten your load. Likewise, if you notice that someone you care about is showing signs of distress, ask them how they are feeling and what they need. There WAS never and never WILL BE a PERFECT Celebration. So do not put any unrealistic pressure upon yourself family or friends. Focus on what you can do rather than what you can't do.
remember many do not have anyone to celebrate christmas with this year and in seasons past we know that this time of year sees the highest suicide rate.
Side by side maybe able to offer support along with MIND and the Samaritans.
How we can celebrate during the restrictions
Focus on kindness – focus on what kind things you can do for others and for yourself.
Be there for each other – have conversations with family and friends about how you’re feeling, listen to how others are coping and act with empathy and understanding.
Take time to be grateful - appreciate the joyful little moments. Reflecting on all you have to be grateful for can really lift your mood. Be present in the now!
Gift giving – as usual. you can buy online and get them delivered. We don't need to over compensate with gifts rather than this pandemic has and is showing us what is important about our celebrations and it isn't about the materialsm . It is about time, joy and connection with our loved ones.
Be mindful of overindulging -We saw in the March lockdown a lot of people gaining weight and drinking more alcohol and this is a coping mechanism and was understandable, However, it’s important to keep an eye on what you’re drinking, eating and spending. Some people may turn to alcohol, food, shopping and illegal drugs to help cope with stress.We want to come out of this the best we can to create a better future not create more problems.
Celebrating with children - Children will be feeling this very differently. After all they are usually the main focus. So get creative and get them involved. Make your own decorations, put a scrap book together of ideas and let them come up with some about the celebrations will look like this year.
Do something different - The tradition of card sending and hand written letters seems to be a thing of the past with the here and now digital technology we have become accustomed to so why not buy cards to send and if you can't get to buy stamps then use social media. Regardless of how you do it LET PEOPLE KNOW THEY ARE IN YOUR THOUGHTS
Maintain your traditions – you could also stick to the traditions that you are used to. Whether it’s making a particular meal, or decorating your home on a certain day, by maintaining these traditions you can create a sense of normality.