As we wade through a year like no other, we find ourselves now preparing for a Christmas unlike any we’ve experienced before. If your usual light-hearted anticipation is feeling dulled or replaced by trepidation, you’re not alone.
Please go gently. This has been a long depleting chapter and the uncertainty of what lies ahead continues to weigh on our minds. Let’s take a look at 5 ways we can prepare ourselves and squeeze out maximum Christmas cheer, restrictions and all.
1. Keep it real
While we normally look to Christmas as a time of joyful coming together, it serves us to acknowledge the reality of the situation we are facing. This Christmas will feel different and will look different to any other and we need to recognise the very real challenges and emotions that come as a consequence.
We may feel a keen sense of loss that precious rituals are not accessible this year and we have every right to mourn the loss of that opportunity to make memories. If we don’t allow ourselves to feel them they have a habit of spilling out and making themselves known anyway.
To feel the joy available to us we also need to feel the pain of our loss, because we can’t selectively numb ourselves to just the emotions we’d rather avoid. Allowing ourselves to feel the sadness and the worry also allows us to savour the good stuff too!
It might help to set aside some time to feel your worries and loss – think about how you might like to express yourself, where you’ll give voice, with whom and put a ring around time to let it out so that it doesn’t taint other moments. This will free you to see more clearly other moments of peace and joy and take hold of them with both hands.
2. Planning for uncertainty
With guidelines changing it can be very hard to know what will be possible for us to do this year. Again, this is the reality of the situation and these moving goal posts are beyond our control. It can be very frustrating not being able to make plans and even more aggravating when we can’t do what we would really love to do - that emotion needs to go somewhere.
Give yourself time and space to feel and then bring your focus back to what lies within your control and what you CAN do. If you don’t know the logistics of what’s possible, focus on the intentions behind what you would normally do – what are your values, what is important to you at this time of year?
We may not be able to physically come together at the same table but how can we create a sense of shared experience or communicate care?
3. Creative connection
Who would you normally make plans to see over the Christmas period? What kind of rituals would you normally enjoy together? Make a list of all the people near and dear to you and think about how you can reach out and let them know how much they mean to you. If there are things that you would normally do together, can you do some of them on your own?
Savour the activity and let your loved one know that you were thinking of them and looking forward to sharing this experience directly with them again in time to come.
It helps to remember that it won’t be like this forever. If you can’t do them at all, can you tee up a phone call to reminisce about things you did in the past, drawing on all your senses to relive it together. Can we find new ways to plug in and stay current with people? It doesn’t have to be a zoom call, it can be a hand written card, a care package, or a voice note. Get creative to draw on the support and give support to the people in your corner – we need each other like never before.
4. Make a mood boosting menu
Winter is tough at the best of times but with our current constraints we need to be even more proactive about boosting our health. Don’t just hope you’ll put your finger on something when the need arises. Get prepared by thinking in advance about the things you can do to lift your collective spirits and write them down!
This is the stuff that goes out the window in times of squeeze so commit it to paper and keep it where you will see it often. Think about the seasonal joys available to you, think about the simple pleasures of the senses, consider the simple ways of spending time that bring contentment (for example you can also see Michaela's blog about mindful eating).
What are the meals you love to prepare?
How will you move your body?
How will you draw on the power of Mother Nature?
What hobbies, creative pursuits, games or films will you turn to?
How can you make your home environment cosy and uplifting?
How will you honour your need to rest and recharge?
Jot them down and you will be more likely to make these healthy choices.
5. Make new memories
While it pains us that we can’t do all the things we love with all the people that we love, think about how we can share time and space in different ways. So often it is the most simple things that bring us together.
Reflecting on your intentions and values for this time of year, how can you take action in service of them? How can you show your care and give the gift of compassion?
This Christmas is one that we’re not likely to forget, pepper it with mindful moments, pockets of peace, presence, connection, and nourishment and hopefully we will remember it for some beautiful reasons too.
Suzy is a mother of two, a Chartered Psychologist, Yoga Teacher, Best Selling Author and Wellbeing Coach. She is also a core member of the Nourish Contributing & Founding Team. Suzy specialises in maternal well-being, helping mums manage their emotions, energetic bank balance and the unique stresses of motherhood.
Suzy has written three books – The Self-Care Revolution: Smart Habits & Simple Practices to Allow You to Flourish, The Little Book of Self-care: 30 Practices to Soothe the Body, Mind and Soul, and Stand Tall Like a Mountain: Mindfulness and Self-Care for Children and Parents.
On the Nourish app, you will find over 50 nourishing tools (incl. 27 short videos) from Suzy, ranging from mindfulness and self-compassion basics, to breathing exercises, to dynamic yoga sequences, to mind based coaching activities. Suzy specialises in helping us find those micro moments to dot through our day.