FitQuid
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FitQuid

Covid-19 and Christmas

Photo by: Nicole Michalou

Christmas and the holiday season are often seen as a time of joy and festivities, but it can also be a very stressful time for some. There are many reasons as to why Christmas can be stressful- family gatherings, present buying, travel-, and the Covid-19 pandemic may have accentuated these feelings for some, worsening people’s mental health. Incidence has risen again this past autumn, with 643,219 positive cases in the past 7 days (latest data provided 22 December 2021), and new measures are being introduced to attempt to remedy this. As we celebrate this festive season, there are plenty of things we can do to prevent infection spiraling out of control, keep ourselves and our loved ones safe, and help deal with the daily stress.

Most of us skipped last year’s big Christmas festive gatherings, and we might have to do so again this year. Studies conducted during Covid-19 lockdowns have shown that the restrictions on the number of people who can meet indoors (“Rule of Six”) are an effective way of reducing our contact with others and therefore limiting the spread of the virus. This year, my family and I have decided to keep our celebration to just the four of us. This doesn’t make Christmas any less special, a time during which we might’ve seen family and friends, as we’ve chosen to focus on the small things we can do to celebrate safely. Some of these things involve taking ventilation seriously. Increasing air circulation is an effective way of lowering the transmission of airborne viruses at home. Cracking a window open just a little bit during the day works fine (about then a few minutes per hour), as the colder the temperature outside, the better the airflow.

Another way of making sure this Christmas is special is making sure to take care of yourself. Some people put themselves under a lot of pressure to ensure that Christmas is perfect. Between commercials, movies, and social media, it’s easy to focus too much on making the holiday as magical as possible. Holiday perfectionism may involve having an endless ‘to-do’ list, feeling like your efforts aren’t good enough, and not enjoying the process. It’s important to avoid focusing too much on perfectionism, as it can lead to exhaustion, cynicism, and overall distress.

Worrying about making this holiday perfect may lead to you not experiencing the moment and missing the good things that happen. Mindfulness, a type of meditation, can be used to avoid falling into the “perfectionism trap” and enjoy the present more. A study conducted in 2020 found that greater mindfulness was related to lower avoidance behaviours and feelings of anxiety. If meditation isn’t for you, going out into nature can also help reduce your stress and improve your mood, and overall be beneficial for your well-being.

Additionally, not having a perfect Christmas may be good for you. Embracing how things work out, and accepting that something might go wrong, can help you learn to be more flexible and deal with failure better. Being able to do things “just well enough” instead of “perfectly” can give you more control. Focus on making yourself happy, and this will make others around you comfortable and happy too. Self-compassion is also a crucial aspect of well-being, as it can help reduce the negative impact of stress.

The holidays are about making joyful memories. Here at FitQuid we aim to motivate the community to live a happy and healthy life. This also involves taking small steps to reduce our and others’ risks during the winter and holiday season- helping to take the pressure off the NHS and start the year well. While celebrating Christmas during a pandemic may be stressful, it’s important to remember what we enjoy about celebrating it. Take care of yourself and others, and use this holiday season to enjoy the time you spend with friends and family.

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Auri Carballo

Auri Carballo

Psychology graduate, invested in helping communities.