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Five things to look forward to this festive season

Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK
03 December 2020

This year has been hard for most people, and a very different festive season might not feel like something to get excited about. But here I share five things to look forward to this festive season, and some ways to stay positive as we approach the new year.

1. Practising self-care

It can be easy to think of the Christmas period as a time to focus on other people, but it’s also important to look after yourself. Reserve some of your seasonal goodwill just for you! If you have some time off work, try to use it to recharge your batteries.

  • Have a go at cooking your favourite foods. Try new recipes or do some festive baking.
  • Make time to do things that you find relaxing, like listening to podcasts, reading books or having a long bath. You could also try practising mindfulness.
  • Regularly writing down the things you’re grateful for can help to boost your mood, and they don’t have to be big things. It might be enjoying your morning coffee or speaking to a friend on the phone.

2. Connecting with people

Connecting with other people is a great way to boost your mood. If the new rules over Christmas allow you to meet up with some friends or family, you might find it really helps with your mental wellbeing. And, while big gatherings might not be on the cards, there are also other ways you can connect with people you love over the festive season.

  • Try making gifts or cards that you can send to your loved ones. It will add a personal touch and give you a fun and creative project to focus on.
  • Seek out your usual celebrations online or organise your own virtual versions. This could be a Christmas party, a festive quiz or an online carol service.
  • Start a “reverse advent calendar” by using the days leading up to Christmas to put aside some food to donate to a community foodbank.

3. Doing something different

This year, many of our daily routines have lacked excitement! Maybe you used to be a keen theatregoer, or you’re missing having plans with your family at the weekends. The festive season can be a great time to mix up your routine, and enjoy some different ways to keep yourself busy and entertained.

  • Brighten your surroundings by putting up festive decorations and lights around the house.
  • Watch festive films and television programmes that are released for the holidays.
  • Try to look for the positive aspects of having different plans this year. Maybe you can look forward to a cosier Christmas with fewer people to cater for, or make the most of setting your own schedule.

4. Enjoying the outdoors

You might think about winter as a time to wrap up warm and stay inside but getting outdoors can do wonders for your mental and physical health. Put on some layers and head outside!

  • Take a walk around your neighbourhood to look at the Christmas lights people have decorated their houses with.
  • Grab a hot drink and meet up with a friend or family member outdoors if you’re able to do so safely while following the government guidelines.
  • Spend time appreciating nature – you can even do this from your window if you can’t go outside. Take time to observe the plants and animals in your local area.

5. Welcoming in a new year

This year has been tough for everybody, and you might not be feeling positive about what’s to come. Take this time to focus on moving forward and do things that help you feel hopeful about the future.

  • Cleaning and decluttering your space might help you feel ready for a new year. If it feels too daunting to clear up your whole house, choose a specific cupboard or drawer to go through.
  • Write things into your calendar that you’re looking forward to. This could be anything from the day your favourite series starts on TV, to scheduled video calls with your family.
  • Think about making some New Year’s resolutions to give yourself a goal for next year. Perhaps you could take up a new hobby or set a goal to run a certain distance each month.


If you’re worried about your mental health, our direct access service aims to provide you with the advice, support and treatment you need as quickly as possible. If you’re covered by your health insurance, you’ll be able to get mental health advice and support usually without the need for a GP referral. Learn more today.

Caroline Harper
Specialist Nurse Adviser for Mental Health, Bupa UK

    • Difficult feelings about the coronavirus pandemic. Mind. www.mind.org.uk updated 02 December 2020
    • Sansone, Randy A., and Lori A. Sansone. "Gratitude and well being: The benefits of appreciation." Psychiatry (Edgmont). 2010 Nov; 7(11): 18–22
    • Five Ways to Wellbeing. The New Economics Foundation. www.neweconomics.org accessed 02 December 2020
    • Mental health problems – an introduction. Mind. www.mind.org published October 2017
    • Guidance: Making a Christmas bubble with friends and family. Cabinet Office. www.gov.uk published 01 December 2020

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