CHRISTMAS is usually a time we spend with our nearest and dearest, but this year many people will be facing the festive season alone.
Tough new coronavirus restrictions mean that many people have been unable to travel in order to spend Christmas with their families.
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The government had previously announced Christmas bubbles for Brits – allowing people to spend five days together.
On Saturday these plans were abandoned as cases of the coronavirus continue to rise and a new strain of the virus was detected.
If you're alone this Christmas and away from your family – there are ways to make the most of the day.
Speaking to The Sun, Dr Sarah Jarvis, GP and Clinical Director at Patientaccess.com said people often have great expectations for Christmas.
Co founder of The Live in Care Company, Luca Rado also stated that this time of year is particularly hard for the elderly who may be on their own due to shielding requirements.
The experts highlighted their top tips to help cope with the misery of spending the festive season alone this year.
1. Structure your day
Christmas is a time when many of us try and relax but Dr Sarah said it could be helpful this year to try and add some structure to your day.
Dr Sarah said: "Structure your day. If being in your pyjamas all day is a treat then that's fine but it's great to add structure.
"You can try and time things, set calls for certain times and prepare food the same time your family is preparing theirs."
2. Have virtual contact
We've all become accustomed to using platforms such as Zoom and Skype during the coronavirus lockdown and Dr Sarah says that this is a perfect time to dust off some of your new acquired skills.
She said: "If you can Zoom, WhatsApp or Facetime then that's great.
"Hearing people's voices is also lovely, just try and spread the calls out throughout the day."
This year, Dr Sarah said she would be opening her stockings virtually with her daughter.
She added that video calls are a great way to bring everyone together.
3. Manage expectations
It's hard to escape the fact that Christmas will be very different for a lot of people this year.
In the run up to Christmas Dr Sarah said there are ways to prepare yourself, she said that this can sometimes mean remembering that some people feel lonely even when they are around others.
"Christmas can be challenging, especially if you have lost a loved one.
"People have great expectations of Christmas but it's important to remember that not everyone is having a marvellous time."
You’re Not Alone
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It doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It's the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it's rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You're Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let's all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You're Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
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- Heads Together,www.headstogether.org.uk
- Mind, www.mind.org.uk, 0300 123 3393
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- Samaritans,www.samaritans.org, 116 123
4. Limit social scrolling
Social media is great for staying in touch with family members but sometimes endlessly scrolling through various platforms can make you feel even lonlier.
Dr Sarah said that she would definitely advise limiting the amount of time you spend on social media this festive season.
She said: "We have seen a huge rise in young people having mental health issues and social media is partly to blame.
"On the whole, try and limit yourself. It's no good scrolling through all the good times everyone else is having if you're feeling lonely.
"Write yourself note that reads 'this is airbrushed' and repeat that five times."
5. Make it special
For many people, Christmas is made special by the memories we create with family and friends.
Even though we might not have a normal Christmas this year, Dr Sarah said you should still try and make it special.
She said: "If that means having chocolate for breakfast then go for it.
"Obviously don't be getting drunk at 10am, but you should make Christmas feel like it's a treat."
6. Stay active
For some people, Christmas would usually mean running around and trying to squeeze in family members.
This year this will be different and Dr Sarah said it's important that activity isn't left behind.
Dr Sarah said: "You need to look after yourself. Try and fit in a little bit of activity every day."
Luca also told The Sun that a Christmas Day walk is a great way to stay active.
He said: "Walks outside in nature can be an easy activity to incorporate over the festive period.
"Walking has many psychological and physical benefits; it helps stimulate your senses and a passing “hello” with other walkers will feel a little less lonely.
"Local parks can be good locations for walking as they are usually away from busy roads.
"A change of scenery is positive for the mind too.”
7. Look at old photos and take new ones
Luca said that the elderly will be particularly vulnerable this Christmas and said that looking at happier times might help.
He said: "This can be a useful activity to help people who are elderly or living with dementia recognise familiar faces of family members and friends.
"It can also be an opportunity for them to reminisce and recall any memories of busier Christmas times."
Chris Millington, UK and Ireland managing director of Emporia said taking new photos is also a fun thing to do on Christmas Day.
He said: "If you’re alone this Christmas, pictures can be the closest thing to feeling like you are with your loved ones.
"Exchanging instant snaps of dinners and pictures of you with your new gifts rather than a written thank you text can feel much more heartfelt.
"Sometimes we might not want to book in lots of phone calls and having the same conversations with multiple people can become tiresome; sharing pictures of what you’re doing can be a less intense way to stay in touch and remind family you’re thinking of them, or to engage in conversation about what you’re up to.”
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