Christmas is almost upon us again and, as always, is depicted in the media as a happy, fun-filled time packed with presents, family and an obscene amount of food. This has always been the way the festive season has been painted in my lifetime and seemingly even the threat of the ongoing pandemic hasn’t made an iota of difference. This is how you’re supposed to spend Christmas and if you don’t conform to our commercial ideals then you’re not doing it right.
That’s not the case though. How we spend our Christmas is a personal choice. We all have our own ideas and traditions of what makes a perfect Christmas and we stick to them.
However. For many Christmas is an extremely difficult time of year. A time when a lot of people struggle with the pressures of living up to some non-existent standard of celebration. Not everyone enjoys the festivities. Not every everyone likes being forced to spend time with family members that they don’t see at any other point of the year.
Some people struggle with isolation or loneliness. Sometimes you can be in a room full of people, (Not this year though, obviously) and feel the loneliest you’ve every felt in your life.
Just like Covid, mental health conditions don’t take time off for Christmas. So it’s important to take extra care of your own personal mental health throughout the festive season.
If you do find yourself struggling, there are plenty of places to turn to:
The Samaritans are always at the end of the phone no matter what time of year it is. I’ve called them myself on several occasions when I’ve been struggling and they were fantastic. So don’t be afraid or ashamed to pick up the phone if you find yourself in a bad place. Their number from any phone is 116 123 or if you prefer you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Other helpful resources include C.A.L.M who operate their helpline between 5pm and midnight, 365 days a year. They can be reached on 0800 585858 from any phone or you can use their Webchat service if you prefer.
7 Cups Of Tea is a free online chat support service that allows you to chat anonymously and in confidence with trained listeners, online therapists and counsellors. You can find them here.
Lastly, I think it’s worth mentioning the #Joinin initiative that has run on Twitter for the past few Christmas Days.
Organised by comedian Sarah Millican, the idea is that you search for the #Joinin hashtag and connect with other Twitter users who are struggling with loneliness, their mental health or the pressures of the day. You can of course send a tweet yourself if you find yourself struggling and the chances are somebody else using the hashtag will respond. I always make a point of having my laptop open while I’m cooking the Christmas dinner and chatting with people whenever I have a bit of down time.
However you’re spending this Christmas, I hope you have a good one. 🙂