Surviving Christmas in 2020

Surviving Christmas in 2020

With the festive season nearly upon us, surviving Christmas will be the challenge faced by many.

As winter will always ‘out’ a defective Car Battery, Christmas is a time that will ‘out’ strained relationships.

Lawyers rub their hands together because the New Year brings with it a tidal wave of new Divorce petitions from couples who just cannot stand and fight for their marriages any longer.

Indeed, my own marriage ended at Christmas, two years ago, because I could no longer cope with the emotional anxiety and depression of supporting a woman who thought it was okay to abuse me and take advantage of my kind nature. So I know, first hand, what the challenges are.

MindSpaceHelp, supporting individuals through stress and anxiety to ease constant worry and to live your own truth and to talk about your feelings and have better relationships
At MindSpaceHelp we can support you to Live your truth and to feel you can open up about how you feel while developing secure relationships that last

Universally, 2020 has been a year that many will want to forget. The world we live in has been fractured and ravaged by COVID-19 and the stress and anxiety of making it – just to this point – has been such a hard toll on almost everyone.

And what makes things worse perhaps, is the guilt and the regret of splitting up and dividing a family who have suffered along the way.

For some, the end of a relationship or marriage is a blessing; for others, it represents the harshest of experiences. Like many, I took my wedding vows seriously – for richer and poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part. It meant something to me, bigger than my own self interest.

But it is true to say that there comes a time when enough is enough.

MindSpaceHelp, supporting individuals through stress and anxiety to ease constant worry and to live your own truth
At MindSpaceHelp we can support you to Live your truth

I have learnt, through bitter experience, that, while it is important to look out for oneself — to look out for the needs of the Children, and their best interests — actually eclipses all else.

As adults, when we are ‘stuck’ in the downward spirals of our own personal ‘drama’, we take our eyes off the ball, and do not recognise or think about how Children might be feeling.

It is not intentional at all — but it does, instead, highlight our human fallibility and the difficulty of thinking beyond ourselves, in times of highly charged emotional trauma and distress.

The number one word of 2020, no surprise, is COVID.

The ·number two· and ·number three· words of 2020 are – Anxiety and Depression.

Anxiety in the Spotlight
Anxiety in the Spotlight

The tests of faith upon individuals, couples, partners and families has been immense. Loss of the freedoms we would normally enjoy; loss of independence; loss of income; loss of work or employment; loss of loved ones and friends — never has there been a greater set of challenges — so it is unsurprising how the national anxiety and depression levels have risen, off the charts.

And Christmas is undoubtedly a fulcrum that (like the Children’s game of Buckaroo) will throw everything up in the air.

A sobering thought.

Throwing our troubles away!
Throwing our troubles away!

If you believe in the power of the Universe, this is a time where we are all expected to take on a new sense of personal responsibility and awareness.

No longer are the solutions going to be spoon-fed to us. We must awaken, reality check ourselves and our lives, and live our truths. Not remain oblivious to it all — as we once did.

Through the people I have connected with this year, I have realised a pattern to the anxiety and depression. It comes down to one word — uncertainty.

I, like many, was guilty of taking day-to-day life for granted. Assuming that tomorrow will be much the same as yesterday. Ambling along. Until everything changed, that is.

Uncertainty is a horrible feeling. A feeling of helplessness. Of hopelessness.

Unfortunately, byproducts such as alcohol dependence and substance abuse has risen too; as people increasingly turned to (what they thought were) new coping strategies.

As the say goes ‘there are never any answers at the bottom of a bottle’.

Alcohol dependency - No Answers at the bottom of a bottle
Alcohol dependency – No Answers at the bottom of a bottle

I was recently with an chap who drank alcohol, daily. The Children seemed busy. He felt that it was ‘his time’ and it was not a problem for his family. His partner stayed in a different room. On the surface, like the children, she was somewhat content.

I asked her why she did not join the rest of her family in the living room. Her reply was interesting. He’s not a happy drinker, she told me. Not in a violent or aggressive way (although that can happen in many relationships). No. His drinking loosened his tongue.

He would say little things that he would not say if he was stone cold sober. And those one or two words, here and there, they did the damage.

For anyone who has supported Anxiety sufferers, alcohol and/or substances only make it worse. Much worse. Paranoid Anxiety is a crippling mental disorder.

So, before anyone thinks about going mad this Christmas, and parties like it was 1999 again, reality check yourselves and your motives. I am not suggesting that you should not drink alcohol — not at all — but consider this.

  • Are you wanting to drink to forget or let go?
  • Or because it helps you deal with a difficult partner?
  • As a reward for surviving this year?
  • Because you have become dependent by drinking every day?
  • Or perhaps you feel it gives you confidence?
  • Are you drowning your sorrows?

Know your motives. This is the first step to taking personal responsibility for your patterns of behaviours.

To survive Christmas in 2020 and, perhaps, avoid some of the pitfalls ahead, stop and think about what Christmas represents for you.

Is it a finality? Or a time for caring and sharing. How you prepare for Christmas will dictate how the reality plays out.

It is also worth bearing in mind that social drinkers have no idea how to socially distance — and this Christmas, no matter where in the world you live, social responsibility and social distancing is an important factor. For you. For your friends and families. For the rest of the population around you.

So do give it a second, and third, thought!

Let’s get back to what Christmas represents — to YOU.

For me, Christmas is about family. Specifically, my children. I am a single father so I have no partner to think about or consider. I am sad that I cannot be with my wider family — but it is what it is. And I understand. One of the positives of technology is that, when used correctly, it brings us closer together in times of celebration.

I also like to think about those for whom Christmas is a lonely and desperate time. It helps me to remember how fortunate I am to have the love and support of a beautiful, if not slightly crazy, young family.

Worth a read: Loneliness — A Blue Christmas.

If you are suffering from Anxiety and Depression or feeling very hopeless and worthless — take some time out and ask yourself what are the factors which bring about those hurtful and negative emotions.

Many, if they can be honest with themselves will come back to things which they cannot control the outcome of — which is uncertainty.

It is important to understand where the feelings are coming from, before looking at ways to manage them and beginning to feel better.

Make Solutions, not Problems!
Make Solutions, not Problems!

Shifting focus. This is important.

You know how, if you walk with your head pointed down, you are more likely to bump into something or trip over? Well the same thing can happen to Anxiety suffers when they try and look too far ahead.

So shifting your focus is about only looking as far into the future as you feel comfortable with. And if that is thinking only about today, that’s fine. Or if it is this week, that is fine too. Do not look farther ahead if it makes you feel uncomfortable.

Once you have a focus that feels manageable and comfortable to you, just live with that for now. And gradually increase it at a pace you feel comfortable with.

Reframing realities. Another important one.

I love positive reframing. It is simply about taking a statement such as ‘I am scared to ask her out on a date’ and reordering in a way that places a positive spin on it — ‘I am excited that she might say yes to a date!’.

Think about your negatives. Write them down. Look at each one, and see if there is an alternate way to say it which feels positive instead. (Not everything can be reframed — at the moment — but even that is okay because you can be hopeful that there will come a time soon where you can positively reframe it).

(Em)Power Lists. This can really help.

We all have our issues, worries and concerns. And we carry them around like poisoned charms on a bracelet, stuck in our minds, festering away to the point that they become elements of our anxious states and cause us to slip into low moods or even deep depression.

Write them down. Get them all out of your head — now!

Draw a line down a piece of paper and separate them out into two columns. (1) What you can do something about; (2) What you cannot (yet) do anything about.

Yes you can add chores, but this is more about the bigger things that have been bothering you. But if it helps, add it all and jot it down. It is YOUR Empower List!

This gives you things to focus upon where you can adjust something to make you feel better. And that is about putting the power back inside you and moving you away from feeling so hopeless and helpless.

The things you cannot (yet) do anything about — accept it. Take ownership that those issues exist. But cut yourself some slack. Rome was not built in a day. Sometimes things take time (and need the time) to be worked out. And that is Okay.

Open up. Help comes when you reach out and ask for it.

There is no shame in asking for help, whether it be from a partner, a friend, your family or an organisation which offers the types of support you need.

There are Organisations for everything nowadays. You just have to do a little Googling and you will quickly find the support you need. So why not do that? Makes sense, right?!

If you want rid of your feelings of anxiety and depression, begin the conversation. Just by talking can help the problems seem less insurmountable. What have you got to lose?

Dispose of that which does not serve a ‘better’ YOU.

Are you tired of feeling like the people around you are draining you of your energy, your positivity and taking advantage of your own good nature?

So why are these people in your life?

Again, a reality check is just what the Doctor orders. Shake yourself loose from those people that do not support you in your goals and ambitions, your wants and desires, your passions and your love. The best person to take care of you — is YOU!

If you are in a horrible and toxic relationship — why are you there? Does the relationship benefit you or crush you. If your relationship is going to make you feel sad and depressed and low over Christmas, is it not time to do something about it?

Open up to your partners. If they drain you and take advantage, tell them. Some relationships drift into difficult waters but have not got themselves into such a bad situation that it is irretrievable. And some have already long since crossed that survival threshold.

Don’t become abusive — or let yourself be abused, emotionally, psychologically or physically. If you are in that situation, or if you fear that situation, it really is time to take back your life and get out of it. Do not let yourself become another statistic.

Come what may, do something about it to bring change to your life. There are more suicides at Christmas time than at any other time of the year.

Goal setting. Plan something that is achievable.

We all need goals. These feed our ambitions. They help us feel that we have a purpose to work towards and they put the power of achievement and merit thoroughly back in our hands.

So, go on — make some plans. They can be little things or big ideas. It does not matter as long as it is about YOU and for YOU. Goals serve as neat little reminders that you can do just about anything that you put your mind to — and assert you as a stronger individual.

MindSpaceHelp, supporting individuals through stress and anxiety into loveliness
At MindSpaceHelp we can support you because love matters

Always come from a position of Love. Especially at Christmas.

Christmas is a great time for reflection. And giving/receiving love and kindness.

One of the kindest things you can do is to bring suffering to an end. That includes for yourself as well as toward others.

Think about those around you. How do they feel. What are they going through. Can you do something which might help or support them in some way.

There is no chivalry in being false or fake. Unto thyself be true and all that.

If you have children, for example, think about their needs. Above all, make sure they feel safe, loved and supported. As adults we forget to see the world through the eyes of a child and how magical Christmas time is for them.

People are reflections of what they reflect. A positive you will bring positivity back to you.

So, surviving Christmas is going to be about being real, honest, open, truthful, kind, benevolent, empathetic, aware and self-responsible. Just position your focus where it is comfortable for you. It may well be a source of self love that you can live with.

Published by Paralegal-Attorney

Qualified Paralegal Attorney specialising in Children and Family Law in the UK

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