I did wonder if I should title this post - tips for surviving Christmas during a pandemic - but no, I figured I should be positive. For the great majority of us, we CAN enjoy Christmas and not just have to survive, endure or get through it this year.
We're still a week away from Christmas day and there is plenty of time for each of us to check ourselves and start changing our mindset from negative to positive. We know now that the rate of spread in the UK is still high and for many areas (especially London, the South East and Wales) the spread is rising exponentially. So, it is time for every one of us to act responsibly and to have the smallest, safest gathering possible this Christmas.
It won't be normal - there won't be boozy nights with friends, trips to the panto, ice skating with the kids or frantic sale shopping and now we know that for sure, it is time for us to accept it and make the best of what we have left. I'd like to suggest that we can still have a good time or even a great time and I wanted to share some tips for doing so.
Take a Positive View
My first suggestion and it applies to everyone is to look on the bright side. I know from personal experience and from being involved with the Reasons to be Cheerful gang for over a decade that looking for the good in a situation makes a difference. When you choose to be grateful and offer thanks for the things that you do have, it changes your mindset and it can easily become a habit. Of course, you have to be willing to put in the effort and I think it is good to write down each day the things you are thankful for. Aim for three a day and when you are struggling just seek one positive thing, even if it is as simple as - you have a home, warm clothes, food to eat. Start with the basics and keep recording what you are grateful for and your list and your heart will grow, I promise you.
A few years ago I wrote a post titled 'Keeping perspective: It's Just One Day After All!' where I talked about not following the crowd and remembering that Christmas is just a short snippet in time, and I think it is more important than ever this year to remember that. Don't spend money you don't have, mourn the things that are missing or be anxious over whether the turkey will be perfect. Try instead, to be calm, loving and present in the moment.
Oh and on the note of being positive, make a concerted effort to stay away from negative people during this time. You don't need anyone to steal your joy! You really can control your own thoughts and positive affirmations go a long way. I have a typed sheet on my mirror that reminds me of who I am, for me, it is about being a child of God and I focus on His promises but for you it might be more general affirmations like - I am a beautiful woman with a good heart, I am generous, I am loving, I will have a great Christmas day, I treasure time by myself. All the things you want to believe and need to hear, write down and say them aloud to yourself as you start the day.
Make a Plan
If you know that this different Christmas will be a struggle for you, it's probably a good idea to make a plan of the things you can/ want to do. At first just let yourself go and write down everything you love, all the things you'd do if you had the money, time and facilities and then look at that list and see what you can realistically include. Maybe you love to travel to the Seychelles, but of course you can't do that this year, so turn the heating up, put on a sarong, make a fruity cocktail and watch a film or documentary set in paradise. Some might think this a bit lame, but if you approach it with the right mindset it could be enjoyable.
For me, I am going to be Pollyanna and turn it on it's head. I can't see my wider family and that is really sad, but it gives me the gift of time. I don't have to be the hostess and run around catering to others, instead, I can bake gingerbread, make a foliage table decoration, do some decopatch, read my book and sing my heart out to Songs of Praise.
As I have children and they'll need entertaining, I've got a couple of new board games for us to enjoy together and we'll definitely go out for a walk/ explore of our local area each day. Taking the time to do things together over this Christmas will make the difference to them, they enjoy cooking and crafting when it is alongside me. I just need to be prepared with all the ingredients or parts we need for our chosen tasks. To choose what we get up to, maybe we can all come together to make the plan and put some ideas in a hat of what we will get up to together. Simple but different activities are the ones they will remember for the rest of their lives. My kids still talk about the year we all trampolined in the snow, and that was around 8 years ago!
Break the Day Up
Once you have your planned activities, it is a good idea to break your day up. You don't want to wake in the morning and think that you have 18 long hours before you go back to bed again. Instread focus on just an hour or two at a time and make each enjoyable.
Here is a sample plan, that I might have if I was a woman living alone -
Wake up and cook myself breakfast, enjoyed with a cup of tea (or you might fancy a Bucks Fizz)
After tidying the kitchen. Run myself a deep bath with a new bath bomb and pamper myself in the bath
Once dressed, take some time to do my make-up and nails. Maybe even have a pedicure. I've got plans to meet people on zoom and therefore I want to look and feel special.
Meet my family on zoom/ Facetime/ by phone and catch up
A quick lunch of cheese, biscuits and festive chutney before a nice walk out in the neighbourhood/ local park for some fresh air
Open my presents as I watch a Christmas movie and enjoy a Baileys
Cook myself dinner. I'm not going to bother with a big long-winded roast turkey for one (I think that would just make me sad) so I'm having steak, roasted parsnips and carrots and brussels with pancetta. All cooked within 40 minutes and on the plate - yum!
Meet with my girlfriends/ family on zoom for a festive quiz evening - maybe on Kahoot! or play Among Us, something where we can all get together and have a laugh, whilst enjoying another Baileys.
Either read or watch a little TV before heading off to bed, having had a really enjoyable day!
Choose Health and Moderation
It's Christmas, of course, you're allowed some chocolates, a glass of bubbly or some roast potatoes if they are what you fancy, but just be mindful of overindulging and then feeling bad for it afterwards. Moderation is a really good approach to a successful Christmas, whether you are alone or with others.
- Get out and take some exercise each day. Enjoy the fresh air, feel the difference it makes to your energy levels
- Still get a good nights sleep
- Eat the food you fancy, not what you feel you should stuff your face with, nor use up all that is in the house
- Pace yourself, Christmas spreads out over a few days generally. You don't have to do everything on day one
- Limit your alcohol to an enjoyable drink, but we careful not to overindulge or you could find your mood dropping
- Say no if you need to. You may have friends or family who are trying to pull on you and you want to help, that is great, but only do it if it isn't detrimental to you and your wellbeing.