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2020 has not been an easy year for most people, and an unusual holiday season might not feel like something to get excited about. But we should close this chapter on a high note as much as possible, so we spoke to Caroline Harper, the specialist nurse adviser for mental health at Bupa UK, who shares five things to look forward to this festive season and how to stay positive ahead of the new year.
We normally think of the Christmas holidays as a time to focus on other people and spread good cheer among friends and family, but what we tend to forget is that it’s just as important to look after yourself. Reserve some of your festive goodwill just for you! If you manage to take time off work during this busy season, try to use it to recharge and replenish your mental and physical health.
Why not spend some time decompressing in the kitchen with new recipes or festive baking? A good way to practise self-care can also involve doing things that relax you, such as listening to podcasts, reading books, or taking a long bath. Meditating or practising mindfulness is also high on the list. To help boost your mood, consider regularly writing down the things you are grateful for—they can be small things, like how much you enjoyed your morning coffee or speaking to a friend on the phone.
Christmas is all about coming together with family and friends and spending quality time with loved ones. Connecting with others is a great way to boost your mood and get into the holiday spirit. If you have an opportunity to safely meet up with friends or family over this period, you might find that it does help with improving your mental well-being.
While big gatherings might be off the table for now, there are still plenty of ways to connect with loved ones over the holidays. Consider adding a personal touch to your gifts and cards, which has the added benefit of giving you a creative and fun project to focus on! In an increasingly digital world, you can also try organising your usual celebrations online to connect with friends and families overseas.
Needless to say, the happenings of 2020 has thrown a wrench into our lives, and a lot of our daily routines have been stagnant and lacking excitement. With entertainment venues closed for a good portion of the year, it can often feel like you have missed out on doing things with friends and making plans with family over the weekends. With just a few weeks to go until the end of the year, why not mix things up and close off 2020 on a high note by keeping yourself busy?
Putting up decorations around the house is a must for Christmas, plus it’s the best way to brighten your usual surroundings with seasonal cheer. Spend some time watching festive films and television programmes released just for the holidays and try to look for the positive aspects of having different plans this year. Even if this Christmas is more intimate than the ones before, that’s not a bad thing!
You might think of winter as a time to wrap up warm and stay inside but getting outdoors can do wonders for your mental and physical health. It never gets too cold in Hong Kong anyway, so pull on a coat and head outside! With so many things to explore in Hong Kong’s great outdoors, it would be a shame not to, now that the weather allows for a brisk stroll in the countryside.
If nature is not quite your jam, try taking a walk around your neighbourhood or head to one of many shopping centres to look at their opulent Christmas displays. You could always take advantage of the colder weather to grab a hot drink and meet up with a friend and go on a walk with them. Head to a park and some time appreciating nature—take time to observe the plants and animals and feel more connected to your peaceful surroundings.
2020 as a whole has been tough for everybody and it makes sense that you might not be feeling particularly positive about the new year to come. Instead of dwelling on the past and what has happened, take this time to focus on moving forward so you may feel hopeful about the future.
One way to welcome in a new year is by cleaning and decluttering your space. This can help you feel ready for a new year and prepare you mentally for a fresh start. Clearing up your whole flat or house might feel daunting but you can always smart small—choose a cupboard, wardrobe, or specific room to go through and work your way through from there. It also helps to note down things that you’re looking forward to, whether they be a new season of your favourite show or scheduled video calls with your family. Making ambitious New Year’s resolutions can be tempting but consider giving yourself achievable goals next year rather than resolutions, such as picking up a new hobby.
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Guidance: Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family. Cabinet Office. Published 01 December 2020.