wellness

So, you’re alone on Christmas. Here are 3 steps to cope with the disappointment.

*Takes a deep breath.*

*Yawns.*

*Sighs.*

Well. 

Christmas in NSW has been overcome by the pandemic and now the holiday plans of many Australians have been upended in what seemed like an unlikely scenario just mere days ago. 

As locally transmitted cases sweep across the Northern Beaches, at a steady but devastatingly disruptive pace, millions of Sydneysiders have been forced to adjust their expectations for what the 25th of December will bring. 

Thousands will be isolated in quarantine, and even more will be separated from loved ones thanks to unforgiving border lines. 

The mental health toll, no doubt, will be heavy.

Mamamia spoke to Michael Inglis, psychologist and co-director of The Mind Room, who explains this period will be particularly hard considering many psychologists are now on leave, with many taking an extended break thanks to fatigue from the year that was.

But, he says, are there ways to keep your mind healthy, even when being alone on Christmas feels like the least merry thing you could do. 

There are three steps, Inglis shares, to cope with disappointment over cancelled Christmas plans. 

1. Acknowledge your disappointment. 

"The first step is to allow yourself to feel disappointed," says Inglis, who adds that people often don’t even acknowledge they're upset.  

“They think, 'I should be better than this,’ or ‘I should be able to get over it'. But it’s okay to say, 'Actually, I'm really upset, I'm really sad about this, and I'm going to really miss this opportunity to spend time with friends and family'.”

Inglis says that by acknowledging the emotion, people can more easily move to the next step. 

Watch: What you're like during isolation, according to your star sign. Post continues below. 


Video via Mamamia.

2. Have perspective.

Inglis says that whilst your plans may have been cancelled this year, it is important to remember it’s only one year, hopefully out of many years. Plus, there are - again, hopefully - other times to celebrate with the family.

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“Christmas may not happen on the 25th of December for you, but maybe you’ll be able to meet up with your family in March, or have Christmas in July. Or you might take some time to travel when possible and recreate the atmosphere that you usually have on Christmas Day.”

Inglis says it’s important to be flexible, especially this year.  

“We're all very traditional in terms of Christmas. We have this idea that it's going to be with family. But maybe be flexible this year - you might spend it with people who you don't usually celebrate with,” the psychologist explains. 

“In some ways it is a nice thing, because it will make you appreciate Christmas more than ever when you go back to the more traditional approach, if that's what you prefer.”

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3. Focus on what you can do. 

If you’re alone on Christmas, there are still things you can do to make the time feel special.

“We obviously live in a time where we can contact people anywhere, anytime,” Inglis says. “Being alone physically doesn't mean that we have to be alone socially. So we can still contact those people on the day over a screen.”

But apart from contacting friends and family, you can also focus on doing what gives you fulfillment. 

“I find that very few of us have days to ourselves where we do the things we don't usually do,” Inglis explains. 

“What would you like to do if you had a day to yourself?” Inglis encourages people to ask themselves.  

“Be kind of idealistic here. It might be going for a bush walk, or creating something at home. It could be home repairs, such as building a garden or painting a wall. Do something you wouldn’t usually do.

“So create a plan for yourself about what you like to do. What are your hobbies? What's a little home project you've been wanting to do for a long time?”

Whilst it’s certainly not that Christmas we hoped for or imagined it would be, Inglis says it will be important to find joy in some part of the day, even if not all of the day.

If you think you may be experiencing depression or another mental health problem, please contact your general practitioner. If you're based in Australia, 24-hour support is available through Lifeline on 13 11 14 or beyondblue on 1300 22 4636.

Feature image: Getty. 


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