Connection is key in December
It snowed on the weekend and my Instagram feed was filled with wonderment - pictures of snow and children with ruddy cheeks. Looking ahead, I am sure my Instagram will soon be filled with Christmas jumpers, wine and images of togetherness.
Whilst this may be a truthful reflection of reality for some, Christmas can also feel meaningless or lonely - even for those who don't celebrate the event. So, what can you do to manage the December blues? Remember, human connection is key, solitude can be wonderful and mobile devices and social media needs some thought. Let me explain.
1. Keep connected.
In my counselling practice, I see people from a huge variety of social and family settings. I know that people in large families can feel isolated and alone, while people with a handful of friends can feel enormously supported. It's the depth of human connections that matter - that we have opportunities to be heard, understood and valued. Think about how you can help create, shape and support quality connections.
2. Value solitude and recognise loneliness.
Try to understand the difference between 'loneliness' and 'being alone' so that you can look after yourself and others at Christmas. If you know someone who may be lonely, then call them. The human voice is rare in a world of electronic communication, but it remains a powerful way to lift spirits. If you feel lonely, reach out. Some of the most significant interactions in life can happen with people we don't know that well.
3. Don't believe social media.
We all know that social media is a wonderful tool for engagement and it helps people keep connected. Be cautious of its tendency to serve up curated and filtered content - most people share only images they regard as upbeat or positive. How many times have you seen people force a smile for the Instagram camera, only to collapse into a very different emotional state? As you enjoy your Instagram stream over December, remember to see it for what it is. Acknowledge its limitations and don't use it as a tool to compare or judge the worth of your own life.
For those who don't celebrate Christmas, I wish you a happy December and I hope you enjoy the festive lights. Happy Christmas to those who do celebrate the event and may you be snug and warm!
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About Mandie Howard
Mandie Howard is a BACP registered counsellor. She currently works in private practice as well as working as a bereavement counsellor for St Joseph's Hospice in London.