Many of us may find Christmas difficult this year, for lots of different reasons.
It might be that you usually enjoy the festive period, but you're worried about how coronavirus will affect things.
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.
Below 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.
If you often struggle with your wellbeing around Christmas, our information on why Christmas is hard may help.
"Christmas can be a tricky time, even without the pandemic. The news tends to assume we all want to have this big Christmas with family. We are all different. For some, a small Christmas might be a blessing."
Christmas can be an overwhelming time if you are grieving. It can feel hard whether you've lost someone recently or a long time ago. This year might feel even harder if you haven't been able to grieve properly or receive the right support because of coronavirus. You may even have missed saying goodbye to people who died. Christmas can have happy memories, like remembering a person’s favourite Christmas song or TV programme. But it can also cause sadness, anger or regret. Your experience, and what helps you cope, will be individual to you. See our pages on bereavement for more information and ways to find support. Cruse Bereavement's page on facing Christmas without a loved one also has some tips to help you cope.
You may have missed out on certain experiences because of coronavirus. This might have been cancelling events like a holiday or wedding, or not being able to make changes in your life. These lost experiences can cause sadness and disappointment, and even feelings of grief. If you can't have your usual Christmas, this might feel like another loss. For example, you may not be able to see people you’d like to or attend events which bring you joy and comfort. This may feel harder if there are lots of adverts and news stories about how coronavirus has affected Christmas. New Year may also cause similar feelings, if it makes you look back at what you've missed out on. For some of us, the pandemic may also mean we will spend Christmas alone, or away from people we might usually see. Our tips for spending Christmas alone during coronavirus may help with this.
Lots of us may feel angry or frustrated that Christmas is treated as a priority, but other festivals aren't. For example, you might feel overlooked if Eid, Diwali, Thanksgiving or Hanukkah aren't given the same public recognition or special government rules as Christmas. You may also feel ignored by news stories or social media posts about the 'perfect' Christmas, and how that might differ this year. This might include assumptions about what Christmas is usually like, such as spending time with family. This may feel difficult if it's different from your experiences.
You might feel pressure if people around you have different priorities over Christmas. For example, your friends or family may have different views about following health or travel guidelines. This may be stressful or upsetting, especially if you're asked to do things which make you uncomfortable. You may also feel pressure to be around people you aren’t comfortable with, or be in a place that makes you feel unsafe. This time of year is often especially hard if you have experience of abuse or trauma. Our pages on abuse and trauma have more information, and links to organisations who can help. The charity Refuge also has advice if you may be experiencing abuse during coronavirus.
Living with uncertainty can feel stressful and tiring. For example, this may be knowing where we can go or who we can spend time with. This might also affect things like planning gifts, meals or travel. For many of us, money may also feel tighter than usual this year. This might be because of redundancy or worries about how the pandemic may affect our income and finances. This may be harder if we also feel pressure to spend more. For example, if there is focus in the media on supporting the economy. See National Mind's pages on money and mental health for advice which may help.
You may wish you could skip this Christmas altogether. This may be because of coronavirus or other events in your life. And the idea of celebrating when there are problems in the world might feel like a waste of energy, or like it's in bad taste. You may feel like coronavirus gives you permission not to bother with Christmas. This might feel like a positive thing. But you may also feel guilty or ashamed, for example if it means not seeing friends or family.
National Mind have put together a list of useful contacts as well as tips for coping during the festive period.