Explains difficult feelings about Christmas during the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. Provides tips to help you cope, including if you're spending Christmas alone.
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Many of us may find Christmas difficult this year, for lots of reasons.
It might be that you were looking forward to this Christmas after having a different experience last year, only to have to change plans again this year.
Or you may have found Christmas tough in the past. This year might feel no different, or it may still feel harder than previous years.
These are some common feelings you might experience about Christmas during the pandemic. You may also have many other difficult emotions that aren't recognised here. And you may feel different to the people around you – this is ok.
If you're experiencing any of these feelings, it is ok to feel this way. And there are lots of things you can do to take care of your mental wellbeing.
“I feel confused with Christmas as we have two families we need to see but can't, and if we don't see them that's a drama.”
You might feel disappointed if your Christmas plans have changed this year. This might be frustrating if you were looking forward to this Christmas after missing out on your usual celebrations last year.
If you feel this way, the tips below may help you to enjoy Christmas during the pandemic.
Many of us may have had plans, spent money, or arranged travel for celebrations that have had to change or be cancelled. It is okay if you need to take some time to adjust to this, or just need a break. You could:
Taking this time to adjust might make you feel more prepared to handle changing your plans.
It might help to make a new plan for how you'd like to spend Christmas this year. This can include:
“Christmas has been a bit of a dark time for me, even in previous years before the pandemic. The best way for me to cope is to try and have structured schedules in my day, and include self-care things like working out and creative writing.”
If you want to mark the festive season and support your own wellbeing, these are some Christmas-friendly activities that you could try.
Some of these ideas may work for you, but not others. Try not to put pressure on yourself to do anything you're uncomfortable with:
Our page on coronavirus and your wellbeing has lots more tips for taking care of yourself during the pandemic.
If you have festive traditions which you enjoy, you may be able to adapt them for this Christmas. For example:
You might also want to introduce new traditions. This could be dedicating some time to remember a loved one. Or it could be taking some time for yourself, such as by meditating or writing in a journal.
If there are events or traditions that you can't do this Christmas, it may help to think of them as paused rather than cancelled. You could make plans to postpone them until next year, even if they happen in the summer.
For example, if you were due to have a work Christmas party, you could suggest holding a summer solstice party instead. This could give you things to look forward to next year.
You might feel relieved that some parts of your usual Christmas may not happen this year. This may be a good reason to decide whether to stop these traditions in future. This could include where you spend your time, or who you spend it with.
For example, if you enjoy having a quieter, simpler Christmas than usual, you could give yourself permission to do the same next year.
This might feel difficult to do, especially if your Christmas usually involves other people. But making changes doesn't mean you've stopped caring about Christmas or your relationships. It's ok to find new ways to enjoy the festive period.
“I am looking forward to spending Christmas indoors with just my immediate family as I am finding exposure to others difficult because of the virus. So not travelling around to see everyone and spending it on our own – suits me!”
You may plan to celebrate Christmas with other people in your life. If you are planning this, you could ask them whether they wish to celebrate Christmas, and how. And be aware of different people's experiences, and what they may be comfortable with.
These tips may help:
Our page on being supportive to others at Christmas has more suggestions which may help.
Not all of us will get to spend Christmas with the people we want to. This may feel tough if it's not how we would choose to spend the day, whether it's because of the pandemic or for other reasons.
If you are spending Christmas on your own this year, the tips below may help to make the day a little easier.
Some of them might work for you, but not others. Try not to put pressure on yourself to do anything you're uncomfortable with:
“I'm going to be on my own at Xmas. I have plans for a walk in the morning, followed by roast chicken dinner, followed by tapestry and rest, then either a film or bath. I'm determined to enjoy the day despite being alone.”
“I'm not sure if I'm going to be alone for Christmas or not this year. If I am, I'll probably Skype with my mum, watch Christmas movies and just try to not think too much about it.”
You may decide not to mark Christmas this year, and just treat it as if it's any other day. This may feel easier than trying to celebrate alone.
It's completely understandable if you feel this way. These are some ideas which may help:
“My biggest tip I tell everyone is don't be afraid not to celebrate Christmas, don't feel obligated to do things you don't enjoy. You can make your own traditions.”
This information was published in December 2021.
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