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Cancelled Christmas: 7 coping strategies that people are sharing now, with London and the South East in tier 4

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Anna Brech
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Just found out that Christmas is cancelled? For those heading into tier 4 tonight, here’s some advice to keep your spirits up – from escapist reading to the power of staying present.  

With news this afternoon that London and the South East of England will enter tier four from midnight tonight, millions of people face the prospect of a cancelled Christmas

Though the move is necessary to curb the spread of coronavirus, this comes a major blow for everyone who’s planned their festive bubbles for the now-scrapped period of lockdown easing. Indoor socialising is now entirely banned for areas in tier 4, while for the rest of England, Scotland and Wales, households can mix for one day only – Christmas itself. 

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This sudden government U-turn is especially difficult given the tough year we’ve all had – and the glimmer of yuletide hope that now, for many, has been doused out. 

So how’s everyone planning to manage? Here are seven different coping strategies suggested by the good people of Twitter facing tier four restrictions this afternoon, from comedians to writers and more.

Hang on in there

The Good Place actor and presenter Jameela Jamil has some great advice in suggesting we batten down the hatches and ride this one out. Ignore the fact that Christmas is supposed to be a super-social event and instead call your loved ones, and keep holding onto all that resilience that makes you, you. 

This may be tough but it’s temporary – a vaccine holds fresh hope even as we speak. Yes it may take time, but brighter days are on their way. So it’s just a case of getting through for now.

Reach out so that you don’t feel alone

It’s really important that you don’t feel alone this Christmas; even if you are physically on your own or if you’re isolated (for example, in a toxic relationship). For anyone who might feel lonely, comedian Sarah Millican is reviving her #joinin campaign on Twitter. This annual Christmas Day initiative, now in its tenth year, allows people from around the world to connect with one another and ward off loneliness come the 25 December. 

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Using the hashtag #joinin, people share their experiences of being alone at Christmas – from feelings of sadness to positivity and unexpected freedoms. The ideas is that by joining together, people lend each other company and shatter the stigma around loneliness.     

Salute your achievements this year

The brilliant Poorna Bell suggests taking stock of your achievements this year. This doesn’t have mean the ridiculous lockdown pressures of learning a new language, or rolling out Nigella-style baking skills. It could just be the fact that you’ve read more books, gone on more walks, or dusted yourself off after a redundancy. You may well be amazed by all that you’ve done; and in the face of enormous odds.

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“Realised that I have done nine months of this f**king pandemic alone and even though it has been hard, if I can do that I’ve achieved more than I realise,” the award-winning journalist and author tweeted. “Highly recommend it. I promise it will make you feel even the slightest bit better.”

Just making it through this year is achievement enough: and that in itself should be saluted.

Food-share any leftovers 

It’s a well-established fact in science that doing good makes you feel good – which is why ITV News anchor Charlene White’s suggestion of food-sharing is so on-point. If you’re in the position of having leftover food now Christmas visitors are off, you may want to consider donating what you can via a sharing app like Olio.

Alternatively you could pass on any surplus supplies to a local food bank; find your nearest one here. With coronavirus causing a sharp rise in poverty this year (a fact highlighted by Marcus Rashford’s free school dinners campaign), the need is all too great.

Hibernate like a pro

Mental health campaigner Matt Haig has some good old-fashioned advice in the vein of Christmas hibernation. If we do all have to stay in minus guests, maybe we’re better off simply a.) gorging ourselves on sweet treats (festive version of Colin the Caterpillar, we’re looking at you), and b.) retreating in the nostalgic solace of our favourite throwback TV (Saved By The Bell, anyone?). Oh and a Christmas tree to top the whole thing off, naturally. 

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Bulk out your book pile

A wise woman once said, “If in doubt – read.” Well OK, maybe she didn’t… but if not, she should have done. Because nothing carries the power of escapism in life like a brilliant book or six. As Stylist contributor Daisy Buchanan notes in the above tweet, this is just the moment to flesh out your reading list (and possibly support your local bookshop at the same time). 

Whether it’s festive books you’re looking for, or the bestsellers of this year – or even some nostalgic childhood reads – this is your time to curl up and catch up like never before. It’s books and books alone that’ll take you to a whole new place. 

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Focus on the now

“When the big things feel out of control,” writes illustrator Charlie Mackesy, “focus on what you love right under your nose.” It’s sage advice for moments like these, when life threatens to overwhelm. Rather than worrying about what you can’t control – all the “what ifs” that clog up in a future of uncertainty – you can choose to ground yourself in the glorious present. 

Go for an awe walk (yes it’s a thing) and notice all the same moments of wonder and beauty in nature. Treat yourself to all that you love: from Mince Pies to guilty pleasure movies and long, languorous baths. If you can’t be with your loved ones, write them each a letter instead; or create a photo collage so at least their faces are near. The more you can root your mind in little things of the moment, the better: it helps to slow things down. Suddenly, life becomes more manageable again.

Remember, you’re never alone. For help with loneliness this Christmas, contact Mind or the Samaritans

Images: Getty

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Anna Brech

Anna Brech is a freelance journalist and former editor for stylist.co.uk. Her six-year stint on the site saw her develop a vociferous appetite for live Analytics, feminist opinion and good-quality gin in roughly equal measure. She enjoys writing across all areas of women’s lifestyle content but has a soft spot for books and escapist travel content.