Following news that Christmas 2020 will be very different for households across the UK, Hahriful’s chief author, Kathryn Wheeler, reflects on how to deal with bad news and find hope in troubled times, and seeks advice from psychologists
It was noon on Saturday, December 19th, when I started whispering that something big was about to be announced. By 4:30 p.m., push notifications, reports, tweets, texts, clips and hectic phone calls confirmed that the planned relaxation of the blocking rules had been canceled over Christmas.
As a writer, I make it my business to avoid clichés. But sometimes an old saying is the only thing I can do, and I really felt like a rug had been pulled out from under my feet.
In the hours that followed, I worked my way through a variation of the five stages of grief – denial, anger, and then straight to sadness. I glued to my phone, shooting back and forth with friends and family, talking on the phone, and refreshing social media until I went to bed at 8 p.m. exhausted.
Of course, my own situation was sad – I really wanted to see loved ones to have that brief taste of the seasonal normal that, for many of us, focuses on the familiarity with homemade food and the chatter of Christmas catching up at the dinner table.
But beyond that, my heart broke for those who now stood in isolation before Christmas, for those who would not see a family for the first time in months, for those suffering from disease, poverty, grief and prisoners in unsafe homes – domestic ones Violence has historically increased over national holidays and has already increased.
This year the number of people with mental health problems has grown exponentially more than ever. Christmas is always a difficult time for people with mental illness – with limited access to vital services, financial worries, child care, relationships, alcohol and burnout. But now as we watch the number of people suffering from anxiety and depression rise, many may face additional mental health problems for the first time in their lives. At this point I cannot deny the anger I felt at a policy that seemed so completely disregarded for a nation’s well-being.
After the anger came the guilt. Feelings of guilt that my personal disappointment has escaped my duty as a citizen – after all, there is a global pandemic, millions of people are at risk, and here I am for missing the prospect of sharing a cheese platter with my family; Am i really that flat?
But of course the meaning of this time of year goes deeper and I wasn’t alone in my reaction.
“When the news got out on Saturday afternoon, I was initially in a state of disbelief: Christmas has been canceled? It took a while for this devastating news to set in, and panic and concern emerged. How would that affect my family? What do I do now? “, Shares Bibi Jamieson, an integrative psychotherapeutic advisor. “We had a semblance of certainty, normalcy and joy at the prospect of having a few days off on Christmas Day to be together. Hope was given to us and we clung to it after a year of uncertainty. We had an expectation that was not met.
“As I sit here in my practice room and look at the mural on my wall that says ‘Faith, Hope and Love’ – three words so necessary to our emotional wellbeing – I want to inspire some of those words as we do Find out how to get through these difficult feelings. “
If you are struggling with the new Christmas restrictions, Bibi asks you to give yourself the space and time you need to mourn.
“Feelings of anger, betrayal, panic, disappointment, powerlessness, and fear can arise – so let your tears of frustration and sadness fall. Be gentle, kind, and compassionate with yourself. You are human, allow yourself to be human, ”she advises.
“After acknowledging your feelings, we need to remember how resilient and creative we have been this year. So far we have survived, we have done what we thought was impossible, we have adapted. My mantra for this is, “We have done this before, we can do it again.” We literally have to turn the script around and awaken the warrior in us. We can do it, ”concludes Bibi.
So often while Bibi explores, faith, love, and hope are at the center of any positive development. And that feeling of how important it is to tune in also applies to life coach Carolyne Bennett.
“It’s important to feed positivity into our minds, to move away from negative reports, and to set boundaries when it comes to conversations that fuel our fears.” Because when we’re anxious and stressed, we don’t think clearly – remember to stay in the present, breathe, and focus on the solution, not the problem, ”says Carolyne.
“For those of you who are now alone before Christmas due to the distance or the animal system, please be kind to yourself – plan a nice day for yourself even if you don’t think it’s worth giving Get a real TLC and reconnect with people you’ve lost touch with, play virtual games with friends or family, toast to Zoom together and use it as a day to focus on the year ahead: What you want to achieve, what your goals are, what you are feeling alive and the steps you will take to achieve those things. Try to see this as a challenge to face rather than a problem that you cannot face, ”suggests Carolyne.
“If you feel overwhelmed, step outside, breathe, and focus on your surroundings to get back to the present. When we begin to relax, the parasympathetic nervous system is activated, which releases feel-good hormones, ”continues Carolyne. “Take your time and focus on five things you can see, four things you can feel (like the wind on your face), three things you can hear, two things you can smell, and one you can taste. “
In addition to the techniques Carolyne suggests, time is a healer. When I woke up the morning after the announcement, I felt a little lighter. And now that we start the last week before Christmas, I feel lighter again. As both Bibi and Carolyne note, one lesson I learned this year is the importance of sitting with your emotions, allowing yourself to feel them, and then letting go once you’ve processed them.
Coincidentally, today – December 21st – is the winter solstice. From now on the days get longer, the light stays a little longer. It’s a reminder of the cyclical nature of our world and our lives, something I personally find solace in feeling my way through darker patches. The promise of light doesn’t diminish the present darkness – hope doesn’t mean you have to deny the reality of a struggle, it doesn’t mean you fail if you still feel it – but it’s there, waiting on the horizon. And one should hold on to that.
- If you are in a crisis and are concerned about your own safety, call 999 or contact A&E.
- Call Samaritans on 116 123 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org