Friday, 27 November 2020

Surviving the festive season under covid-19 rules

This year has been a rollercoaster of changing rules and regulations thanks to the ongoing covid-19 pandemic. Unsurprisingly, many people in the UK have been affected by these new rules and regulations. Some of these new rules have resulted in much of the population having to spend long periods in their homes, some not being able to mix with other households, and millions of children being off school for long periods of time. Studies by The Office of National Statistics have shown that the pandemic has had a huge impact on people’s wellbeing, with more than 69% of UK adults being affected.

With the festive season approaching, many of you may be worried about how you will cope with the newly announced plans for the festive period. We have some tips to tackle loneliness, especially if you’re unable to spend time with loved ones at this time of year.

Christmas with covid

Current rules state that if you have covid or covid symptoms, or if you have been in direct contact with somebody with covid, you must self-isolate. Even if you test negative for covid, there are some instances in which you must still stay in your home for at least ten days. Should this happen during the festive season, you may feel very alone without being in physical contact with friends or family. Long term, these feelings of loneliness could lead to anxiety and perhaps even depression.

Thankfully, modern devices enable us to stay in touch with family and friends via video-calls which can help us to feel part of the celebrations even if we can’t be there in person. If you are all alone and suffering with covid symptoms, reach out to loved ones for companionship and practical help if necessary. Over 60s who don’t have any family or friends can get help and company via organisations such as Age Concern who can provide weekly telephone calls to people feeling isolated and alone. There are other organisations who provide support for different age groups in the form of helplines too. 

Get outside – if you can

Even those in high risk areas are currently permitted to socialise outdoors, adhering to social distancing rules, and maximum numbers of people/households. Get into the festive mood and grab some mince pies and a flask of tea (or mulled wine if you fancy) and organise an outdoor get together at the nearest park or public green space. The elements shouldn’t be too much of a hinderance if you wrap up warm, pull on your wellies and bring a brolly. Being outdoors can work wonders for your mental health, as can a catch-up with friends you may not have seen in a while. Christmas gatherings may be very different this year, but that doesn’t mean they can’t still be fun.


Single parents and people living alone are still permitted to join one other household, which is known as forming a 'support bubble'. This means you can join others in your bubble in the run up to Christmas and New Year. Try to create a bubble with a local household so that transport won’t be too much of a bother. If your only option is to be in a bubble with loved ones further afield, try to arrange transport well in advance for you to join them or vice versa. If you haven’t yet formed a support bubble, contact family and friends you would like to spend time with and discuss creating a bubble with them. In addition to these rules for single parents and people living alone, new regulations were announced this week to extend the bubble concept allowing up to three households to meet indoors for Christmas. If you need some human contact over the festive period, this may also be an option for you to join with others to celebrate.

If you are struggling with loneliness, you may find this page from the NHS helpful. It looks at some things you can do to feel less lonely during the coronavirus pandemic. 

For more tips on how to make the most of the Christmas season despite the lockdown restrictions, why not book a place at our free webinar How to Have a Merry Lockdown Christmas. 

Friday, 6 November 2020

How to make guilt-free choices to improve your wellbeing

Many of our thoughts about ourselves are actually not our own at all. Outside influences can have a major impact on how we view our actions and even our physical appearance. You may compare your life with that of others and feel guilty that you aren’t perceived to have achieved as much. Sometimes family members or friends can make you feel inferior with their questions and observations about your life. It’s time to take a break from these negative influences and to reflect on what you want. Learn how to improve your mental and physical wellbeing while tearing off the shackles of guilt imposed by others.

What pressures can affect my wellbeing?


Even the most well-meaning of family members can chip away at your confidence, merely by asking questions that highlight certain areas of your life. You could be of an age when family and even society expects you to have married, bought a house and and started a family. If these are all things you really want and you haven’t yet achieved them, being questioned about these subjects can cause negative feelings towards yourself and knock your self confidence.


As you grow older, you will undoubtedly discover that friendships change, as your friends, and you, make certain life decisions. Parents can often be made to feel that they need to keep up with the social lives of their child-free friends. Single and child-free people may feel the pressure of questions about when they intend to marry and start a family. The same pressures can be felt with regards to work as some friends may have already discovered their perfect career and be content climbing the corporate ladder. In contrast, you may not have found your career path, or may feel completely happy to have a low-pressure job with minimal commitment that allows you to concentrate on other aspects of your life that you deem more important. In all of these situations, you may feel that you aren’t living the life that is expected of you, especially if friends expect you to be just like them.


The reality is, you can choose to ignore outside pressures, but this is easier said than done. For many of us, our hardest critic is ourselves. It’s particularly difficult if you had visions of where you would be at certain points in your life and these goals haven’t been achieved. Alternatively, you could have achieved these goals and still feel discontent or frazzled by the building pressure of maintaining what you thought you always wanted. For example, your dream of having the perfect family may be much less than perfect in reality. Your well-paid job for which you have strived so hard might not be what you envisioned at all.

How do these pressures affect our wellbeing?

  • Guilt – the feeling of guilt can be overwhelming for those who feel they haven’t achieved their potential or feel they should be much happier than they are.
  • Depression – being constantly bombarded by pressure from family, friends, and work colleagues can lead to bouts of depression. If your peers and loved ones don’t find you worthy as you are, the chances are, you won’t feel this positively about yourself either.
  • Low self-esteem – If you judge your success by certain goals and these goals haven’t been reached then you may experience feelings of failure, which can knock your self-esteem.
  • Low energy – depression and anxiety can render you inactive which may lead to a vicious cycle of doing nothing, feeling bad about this, and again, unable to do anything about it because your energy is depleted.
  • Regret – looking back you may question past choices and blame yourself for not making the right ones which has led you to an unhappy place in your life. You might begin to question relationship breakups and begin labelling an unworthy ex as the one that got away, just because you think you should be married by now. Or perhaps you regret turning down a previous promotion because you feel as though you would be financially better off if you had accepted it.

How do I pursue my own wellbeing and let go of the guilt?

  • The first step is to stop feeling guilty. This includes regret about how your life could have turned out differently if it wasn’t for certain choices you made at the time. The fact is, there is absolutely nothing you can do about past decisions; you can only learn from them and move forward.
  • If you're feeling guilty that you haven’t met your family’s expectations, realise that it isn’t your responsibility to live your life for them. This also means letting go of the guilt you may experience when you take time out for yourself.
  • Express your feelings to loved ones and explain that although you appreciate their concern, you would prefer to make your own life choices.
  • Parents often feel guilty for allocating any time or attention to their own wellbeing. However, self-care is essential for parents, because looking after your physical and mental health means you are better equipped to help your family. Talking to a close friend or a counsellor about your concerns and the causes of your stress is a great way to release any burdens and feel more confident about taking time to focus on improving your own wellbeing. 
  • Embrace nature – both exercise and being among nature have been proven to improve mental health. Combine the two and go for country walks or, if time is limited, spend your lunch hour strolling through a park or in the fresh air.