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The festive season is one which is usually filled with hustle and bustle, excitement, joy, and celebrations, alongside the stress, planning, preparations and the various emotions this may bring with it. The festive season can also be a sad and lonely time for some. With the pandemic still very much present with us, it is uncertain what the festive season will be like this year. Each and every one of us will experience this time in a unique way this year.

COVID-19 has opened our eyes to many important things, however it has also affected our mental health, our relationships, and our usual way of doing things. The pandemic may feel like we are being stretched to our limits, alongside the restrictions in place such as social distancing, and the possibility of being stuck in quarantine lingering around. Due to this, during this festive season, we may experience higher levels of stress, anxiety, fear and loneliness, amongst others. Therefore, it is of great importance to take care of ourselves and others during such a delicate time.

Below is a list of things to take care of this festive season, to allow you to make the best of this time even during a pandemic.

1. Health

Take care of your health, alongside the health of your loved ones. Follow the measures and abide by the restrictions. Practice social distancing, avoid crowded places and wear a face mask. Make sure to sanitize or wash your hands frequently. Stick to your social bubble, and if you can stay home, do so.

2. Your Mental Health

It’s ok to not be ok, even during the festive season. The festive season may not be easy for some, bringing about pain and hardships. With the uncertainties and consequences of the pandemic, it might be even harder. Make sure to check in with yourself, with how you are feeling in the face of it all. Try to focus on what is in your control, rather than what is beyond your control. Take it day by day. Also, do not be afraid to reach out. In today’s world, you can get the support you need.

3. Yourself

Through this pandemic, many of us may have experienced increased levels of anxiety, stress, fear, and a lack of control amongst many other emotions which may have surfaced. Take the time to connect with yourself, to just be. This festive season, try to escape your hectic routine, try to take it slow and find the time to rest. Tune in with your body and listen to what your body needs. In this way, you can recharge yourself and you will feel charged enough to start another year.

4. Family and Friends

This festive season, we need to let go of the usual celebrations, including staff parties and large family gatherings, as this can further spread the virus. Rather, we can opt to celebrate in a safer and more mindful way. We can do this through investing in quality time with our primary family, through for instance planning game nights, movie nights, and also through spending time decorating the house and getting into the Christmas spirit together. Reach out to extended family and friends through hosting virtual gatherings. All it requires us is to be a little more spontaneous, creative and flexible in order to ensure the best of health for ourselves and the ones we love.

5. Values

The festive season is all about connectedness and embracing the joy, love and happiness it brings. It can also be a time in which one reflects on their life. In such times, embrace your values, be kind, do good to others, offer a helping hand, and reach out to those in need. Even just a listening ear can be of significant support to someone.

6. Presence

Last but not least, be present. This festive season, be grateful for all that you have and for all the people who are in your life. Cherish and breathe in each and every moment, as you never know what the next moment will bring, especially during a pandemic.

Michela Aquilina is a trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist who is currently reading for a Masters in Gestalt Psychotherapy at the Gestalt Psychotherapy Training Institute Malta (GPTIM) and is working as a Trainee Gestalt Psychotherapist with Willingness Team. Michela offers therapy to young adults and adults who are experiencing various challenges and issues relating to mental health and psychosocial, emotional wellbeing.