How to prepare for a strange Christmas

You probably already realize that this year you need to prepare for a strange Christmas. What’s coming will be a very different Christmas than usual. We all have a difficult year behind us, from which no one came out completely unscathed. Months of isolation, smart working, economic difficulties. And now? We are getting ready to spend the holidays but finding the right spirit may not be easy. Yet a moment of lightness can only do us good.

Don’t give in to stress

According to research by the American Psychological Association, 67% of Americans believe that their level of holiday stressstress has increased during the pandemic. Almost one in five adults also say that their level of stress is higher than at the same time last year.

Experts are concerned that the combination of the usual holiday stress and pandemic anxiety is the perfect premise for truly unhealthy holidays for both adults and children. But recognizing the fact that this season has some unique challenges in store and focusing only on what you can control, we can still prevent the situation from precipitating.

The effects of stress on the body

When a person senses that something is wrong, the brain and the body snap at attention. You trigger normal, almost functional feelings from an evolutionary point of view. The “escape or fight reaction”, which once helped us to produce those speed shots necessary to escape predators, floods our bodies with adrenaline and cortisol. These stress hormones communicate to our heart to increase heartbeats, and to our    blood pressure to rise.

But what works to escape the lions is not useful to manage the stress that we face today. In these cases, instead of bringing us back to our normal state, stress lingers, triggering a series of domino-effect symptoms.

Prolonged stress can lead to heart disease, obesity and other chronic diseases. It can lead the individual to bend back and neck, inducing further musculoskeletal problems, as well as interfering with digestion, resulting in heartburn, bloating and appetite changes. Stress can also bring rashes of acne and rashes and cause hair loss.

To face this situation it is essential to learn to take care of ourselves and others.

Children and holiday stress

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In recent months, the youngest have already experienced enormous losses, in terms of situations and activities, often closed in at home, away from friends, school mates and open spaces in which to play.

Although stress is usually thought of as an “adult” problem, even children can experience it. Younger children often experience a sort of “regression” when dealing with stress, for older children, self-isolation is usually the first sign of this discomfort.

Children have so many reasons to feel stressed in relation to this year’s Christmas season. They may miss large family gatherings or typical festive activities. They may feel sad about not seeing their friends, and anxious about a seemingly endless situation. Or they might get stressed out because of adult concerns, like  financial or health issues.

Essential is knowing how to talk to them and establish an empathic relationship. Don’t fall into the error of behaving as if everything were normal This would serve to make them feel our lack of sincerity. Instead, try to reassure while acknowledging the difficulties, and offer an alternative in times of activity and sharing in the family.

Prepare for a strange Christmas

Fear of loneliness

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The pandemic has put our security in crisis. We feel fear of loneliness and the anguish of not being able to overcome this period unscathed. To this we add the Christmas holidays that this year will have an absolutely new declination. For weeks television has warned us not to make the same mistakes of the summer. The winter will make it even more disastrous. It’s the time of the flu. If you add in COVID, it can bring down hospitals. Christmas must therefore be managed with caution and maximum care. Yes, prepare for a strange Christmas.

Fragility of Society

On Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve, COVID highlights the fragility of a society that brings with it crises of value and deep-rooted affections that existed for a long time. Those with the tools to endure the distance will not be frightened by a different Christmas even if he feels sad. But isolation must be distinguished from loneliness. If we isolate ourselves for valid reasons to protect health as we do for the elderly who are the most fragile, we can better overcome even the forced loneliness. The point is to have the tools to deal with it without too much pain.

First of all, we need to know that we can count on a network— the family and friends— solid and present. The real problem is the “accumulation of loneliness.”  One who already lives in a situation of solitude during the year clings to this moment of celebration to see his loved ones. It is, therefore clear that he will live mourning this impossibility. Those who, on the contrary, feel surrounded by love, will understand that it is an emergency measure to avoid a real and serious problem and will be able to face it with greater serenity.

Traditions and news

It will surely be a Christmas in which traditions will be broken and some of us will pass it alone. So, as not to rise from the sadness, some small suggestion:

  •  We will be forced to abandon traditions and customs. Let’s try to look for something new that will put us in a good mood,
  • We cook, even if only for us.  And we look for interesting recipes or ask grandparents, uncles and relatives and then cook these recipes in our own way,
  • We use video calls to be together,
  • Let us remember the others with greeting cards, calls, little gifts thoughts, letters.

If we can take it as an opportunity to devote a little more attention to ourselves and others, this Christmas will still be a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas



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