Christmas. A time for presents. A time for lots of food. A time for family. And most importantly, a time for festive cheer and happiness. However, what implications do these expectations have on those who are not feeling happy?
For the first time ever, I was dreading Christmas this year. As a child, I hugely enjoyed it every single year. The joy of opening presents, seeing family and eating lots of food was something I couldn’t wait for, yet this year was different.
I’ve never really explored how my childhood was on my blog before, however I thought now was the chance to delve a little deeper. Although my parents divorced when I was very young, I’ve been fortunate enough to have two very good parents and a strong family unit, all of which stood me in good stead. Particularly at Christmas, I would revel in being able to spend more quality time with family and have fun!
My mental health has been at an extreme low in recent months and the added pressure of Christmas had naturally brought added stress. Late on Christmas Eve, I suffered a bad breakdown and was in tears. I had not previously used helplines much before, however this time it was absolutely necessary.
After contacting Papyrus and having a long chat, I felt a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders and I was able to think that bit more rationally. The person I spoke to was so understanding and I was able to explain my feelings without judgement. It may seem simple but sometimes all you want is to feel heard!
Much to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed both Christmas and Boxing Day, spending lots of time with family and friends. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for many others.
Loneliness in this country has now reached epidemic proportions, leaving the UK to even be labelled the “loneliness capital of Europe”. Not only are more people now feeling alone at Christmas, but there is also the added stress and comparisons of social media.
It has become the norm for people to share the most positive and impressive snippets of their lives on social media, including the “perfect Christmas” and that only heaps the pressure further on others to follow suit, something that is not always realistic or achievable. I’ve experienced loneliness at its peak this year and I believe it’s so important we do more to tackle it, particularly around such a pressured period.
I recently came across the comedienne Sarah Millican’s fantastic #joinin campaign on Twitter, a fantastic initiative launched to combat loneliness and create a sense of community. The fact that it has been able to help so many people through hard times is incredible and long may it continue!
If I could provide any of my own advice in facing the pressures of this period in the future, it would be to do things you enjoy. Christmas time can put us in such a bubble but it’s vital that we take time for ourselves and practise self-care, whatever that may involve. Let’s also remember to support each other!
With 2018 approaching it’s end, I want to wish everybody a happy new year. Here’s hoping 2019 can be more fulfilling and enjoyable than ever!
Thanks for reading,