Christmas can be the loneliest of times for many people and even more so again this year as the Covid pandemic continues to restrict our movements.
Just as we have changed our behaviour over this time we can also make other changes. Christmas does not have to be a time of stress, large gatherings and consumerism. It should be a time of caring and thinking of others.
Psychologists at the British Psychological Society are urging us to apply the lessons of 2020 and develop new ways of celebrating Christmas safely for all generations to help to avoid loneliness.
Professor Vivian Hill, chartered member of the BPS, who has studied loneliness extensively, says:
“We can evolve our Christmas traditions, just like we always have, so while Christmas 2021 might not be quite what we planned, rather than looking at what we cannot do, and what we are missing, let’s flip it on its head and see how we can make new traditions, new memories and keep all our loved ones safe.
“Last year people were incredibly resilient and adapted in all sorts of ways to celebrate Christmas.
“While we all wish that Covid-19 was not impacting our Christmas again this year, it means we can focus on genuine, authentic interactions with people, and actually have the freedom to celebrate it in the way that works for our families, free of the myths of what Christmas ‘should be’.
“This could be rather than all gathering for one big meal, meeting for walks and mulled wine or Christmas picnics (weather permitting). This is not only safer, but it also avoids people being left out or lonely, or feeling like a burden.
“Feelings of loneliness can be heightened at this time of year and it is a very personal experience with some people feeling lonely even when they part of a large gathering.
“For others the feeling of being outside the norm of a big family Christmas can be very painful.
“In the past 18 months we have learnt more about loneliness and about the importance of reaching out to people, so it’s really important we continue to do this and recognise that loneliness can happen across any generation.”