Year after year, like clockwork, and yet completely different this time around: Christmas – it’s right around the corner. For many of us, this is the time for socialising and getting together – be it with colleagues for a cosy mulled wine at the Christmas market, with friends for Christmas dinner, and, of course, to top off the Christmas season, with loved ones over the holidays.
But Christmas 2020 will be different, for there is an unwelcome guest in our midst – coronavirus. For weeks now, it is not just the issue of coronavirus that has been swirling around us, but also the big question on everyone’s lips: “What about Christmas?” Will it even take place, and will we be allowed to visit our families? During this current second lockdown, it is not just planning that is difficult, but also “staying positive”: The pandemic has been an unsettling force in our lives all year long, throwing up situations and feelings that were previously unknown to us and that are incredibly distressing.
It is for this exact reason that we would like to dedicate this month’s theme entirely to the topic of “Corona Christmas”. We are asking ourselves just how happy and thought-provoking a Christmas with coronavirus can actually be, and we want to give you tips on how we can all enjoy a lovely festive time despite all the restrictions.
In this 1st article on #coronachristmas, we start with the question of how much of an effect corona will have on our Christmas season, as well as what impact not being able to be physically close to our loved ones during this time will have on us.
Christmas “light” – what it arouses within us
We currently find ourselves stuck right in the middle of lockdown – and this means the Christmas season is going to be a “light version” of itself: No Christmas markets, no Christmas parties, no trips to relatives in other cities: The list of things we have to do without this year is as long as our faces – because it is not just our freedom of movement that the restrictions are crippling, but also our emotions – doesn’t everything just feel so damn strange, alien, and scary?
According to a YouGov poll, around half of all Germans surveyed are looking towards the upcoming holidays with negative feelings such as worry, sadness, and uneasiness. This is hardly surprising, as many people right now are afraid of spending Christmas alone and not being able to see their families. We have already had to practise patience and social distancing for almost the entire year – now we want to at least spend Christmas with our loved ones without having to worry. Is this selfish? No, it isn’t – in fact, it’s what makes us human!
Come closer! Why we yearn for comfort and security
A hug, a kiss on the cheek, holding hands – human contact leads to bonding and creates a sense of personal closeness. This very feeling is an essential part of a fulfilling life, and is even necessary for our survival. But where does this stem from?
As it happens, we were born with this sense of “longing” in our veins: In the womb, we are in direct contact with our mothers and can develop and grow under her protection. Even as newborns, we depend on our mothers to provide for us – and not just in terms of food, but also physical contact, warmth, and tender care. This lays the foundation for us to grow healthily as children and to develop a sense of “basic trust”.
Later, as adults, we speak of being “nestled” in warmth and security. The word “nestled” actually comes from the word “nest”, in the sense of vulnerable baby chicks huddling together for warmth. While this relates to the animal kingdom, the same basic principle applies to us as humans, too: Snuggling up together provides warmth and security for us, gives us inner peace, and helps us feel that we are not alone.
Our longing for people with whom we feel secure, understood, and protected – a place like our home – is therefore a part of our very DNA. So it’s completely understandable and acceptable for the idea of spending the holidays alone to be frightening to us.
“Under-cuddled” – when comfort and security is missing
But now we are living in an incredibly unusual time – one in which we cannot be close to one other and where the overriding message is simple: keep your distance. But what impact does it have on us when we isolate ourselves, are no longer allowed to hug each other, and are forced to stay away from people whom we would otherwise like to be close to?
Scientists know: The human organism withers away without bodily interactions, and staying away from our loved ones even goes against our primal instincts. And, hand on heart, is there anyone out there who hasn’t felt this strange sense of helplessness and paralysis when someone close to them has greeted them in these times of restricted contact and they have not been able to act on the impulse to even touch them, let alone hug them?
Anyone who has to forego physical closeness on an ongoing basis or is even mentally or physically isolated, will, over time, suffer from a “lack of contact”, which can make you ill. This is because spending too much time alone can cause severe stress and make it harder for you to handle mental and physical strain. So is “keeping your distance” going to make us all sick? No, because we are also able to be “close” while maintaining our distance at the same time!
So near, but yet so far! How closeness works without physicality
Yes, it’s true – when we talk about closeness in interpersonal relationships, we almost always mean touch, physical contact, and intimacy. But there are other ways of “being close to one other”, as we can also “feel touched” without actually being touched physically.
This means that we can establish a strong bond with our opposite number, even over great distances – and on a purely mental, as opposed to physical, level. This works effectively like a “remote connection” – and this connection can feel so strong to us that it makes us feel happiness and provokes a sense of comfort and security within us. Look inside yourself for a moment and ask yourself: Haven’t you ever experienced a feeling like this before? Maybe during a difficult phase in your life, where a message or a phone call from a loved one really cheered you up, for example? Or at the beginning of lockdown, when you exchanged views with your friends and maybe realised: Hey, I’m not alone in having these fears and worries!
The fact is: In these challenging times, we are all confronted with the same feelings – and that is something that connects us as well. Think about the loved ones you haven’t spoken to in a long time and invite them for a virtual mulled wine, complete with Christmas music, so that you can share your feelings with one another.
Incidentally, you can also create a sense of comfort and security by yourself – even if you live alone or are separated from loved ones for a prolonged period of time. But how? There is only one rule here: Anything that does you some good is allowed. It doesn’t matter whether that’s a new book, indulging over the Christmas period, or an extra cosy blanket for the sofa. Fancy some Christmas biscuits? Well then bake some for yourself – you will find suitable inspiration from our recipe ideas. Mindfulness exercises can also aid you in “getting closer” to yourself and finding comfort and security within yourself – so why not do a guided meditation with one of our mindfulness programmes.
In any case, we look forward to being by your side in making this slightly different Christmas season a particularly mindful one. In the second part of our themed month, we will be trying to approach this “contemplative” time from a different perspective and asking ourselves the question: What is truly important in our lives? And for your daily dose of mindfulness, there are still our daily tips in the app – with new ideas and tricks every single day regarding nutrition, meditation, and sport, to ensure we are well-equipped to get through the colder months!
Your Humanoo team