Reasons to be cheerful
From hugging our loved ones to dinner with friends, when the safe spaces we normally retreat to – and often take for granted – are no longer available we feel their absence.
It’s been a strange emotional time. The landscape is discombobulated. No one has been unaffected by this. Covid-19 has touched all our lives on a spectrum from a little to a lot.
Community and our neighbours are so vital in these difficult times and have become a lifeline and emotional support for so many.
Lockdown 2 has brought a whole new meaning to ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas!’. Some of the Christmas adverts are noticeably different this year and advertisers are more aware that it’s not a perfect Christmas for many people. This is the first Christmas that the adverts acknowledge that not everyone has a film classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” happy ending.
The title of this article is in the words of post punk band, Ian Dury and the Blockheads. The 1979 song - Reasons to be cheerful Part 3 - was inspired by a near death experience and so I felt it fitting given our predicament today. In it, he recites a list of reasons to be cheerful that include: carrot juice, claret, yellow socks, a cure for smallpox, equal voting rights, cheddar cheese and pickle, coming out of prison (chokey), smoking a bong, self study, porridge oats, slap and tickle!
The news of several vaccines in their final testing stage has lifted spirits around the globe and reflected in the stock markets. Could this be the solution to our current situation? Albeit some way off, we are beginning to see a glimmer of light at the end of a long dark tunnel and this is hopeful and we really need a dose of that.
What the vaccine will do however, who it will protect and for how long remains to be confirmed. The vaccine raises unanswered questions but the world is ready and eager to reach for something to help get us out of this hole and cyclical lockdown life.
We also have a new President of America. Trump has officially been trumped and has exited stage left with a hefty push. I also read that pasta production is buoyant in Italy due to the increased UK and global demand by families battered by a pandemic. It is cheap, tasty and easily stored for lockdowns which is good news for the Italians. Scotland is through to the football Euros (I am a Scot and this is indeed a reason to be cheerful) and Christmas is just round the corner.
The biggest reason to be cheerful of course is down to the wonder of science, and the vaccine was interestingly created by husband and wife team and owners of BioNTech in collaboration with Pfizer. Prof Sahin (coined as the man who saved the world) sounds confident that this vaccine will meet expectations when it will be phased in next year.
Unfortunately, many other couples are not working so well together and are struggling with the lockdown effect. Demand for couple therapy has been high in recent months. Living and working at home 24 hours a day with our other half who we normally see only at either end of the day has put pressure on our relationships and tensions are running high.
Even at the beginning, couples relishing being able to spend time together are now feeling it’s too much time and need their space. Individuals may have different attitudes about Covid-19 leading to stress in the relationship.
Households are also worrying about finances and the future. Many people will have lost work adding to the financial strain. We can’t get away from each other in lockdown or see other people or go out with friends. Relationships are not all hearts and flowers and if there are any cracks, they will have come sharply into focus this year. Sharing space for extended periods of time is difficult and we need to compromise much more.
Coping with winter
In my last blog I mentioned the Norwegians and how they cope with winter. I thought I’d give the Danes a shout this time. Denmark consistently ranks as amongst the happiest nations in the world and that’s in spite of terrible weather and high taxes! They have hygge (pronounced hooga). You’ve probably heard of it. It involves, among other things, having coffee and cake.
The Danes eat a copious amount of cake and other comfort food; staying indoors often under a blanket on the sofa; lighting candles to create a cosy atmosphere with storytelling at the dinner table with people they love and feeling safe at home ideally with an open fire or wood-burning stove is very hygge because it brings togetherness.
Talking is good for us
We need to stay above the line emotionally this winter and find ways to do this. Another way to do this is to type less and talk more according to the World Economic Forum. Although remote work is here to stay, we connect with each other when we speak rather than email. When did you last pick up the phone to a co-worker or friend? A simple phone call makes us feel more connected and boosts our well-being according to scientists.
Although we are being asked to maintain physical distance, we need these social ties more than ever for our well-being and our health.
In conclusion, maybe couples should dive under a blanket on the sofa with coffee and cake and listen to Ian Dury and the Blockheads. For those who don’t want to listen to Ian Dury, please give “It’s a Wonderful Life”a go, ideally on Christmas Eve with a decent red wine and mince pies.
However you spend this month, take care of yourselves and see you on the other side. Merry Christmas x
Find the right counsellor or therapist for you
All therapists are verified professionals.