Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Pearnel Bell.
Photo: Contributed

The festive season is usually associated with families and friends coming together to celebrate and socialise, but with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the need to practise physical distancing, many will be left feeling the Christmas blues.

But, according to clinical psychologist Dr. Pearnel Bell, it is very possible for persons to enjoy the holidays without feeling alone and depressed, with their loved ones not physically around.

This, she says, can be achieved if people think positive, maintain their routine and think of making Christmas special for others and not just themselves.

“We feel blue because everything boils down to our own thought process and our attitude, so if we are sitting down and feeling that we are going to be lonely and life is what it is, and COVID-19 is what it is, that’s what is going to play out into our behaviour. But, if we are going to be saying COVID-19 is here and I am going to work myself around it, then there are things we can focus on,” Dr. Bell tells JIS News.

“Focus on what we have. And we have time, we have energy and we have the capabilities to create the type of atmosphere that we want, despite the circumstances, that is still going to make us feel good,” she adds.

Even though the virus is here, the St. Ann-based clinical psychologist says people don’t have to feel lonely this Christmas, as they can make use of what is called a “bubble.”

This, she explains, means having a few friends over, but with some level of physical distancing and not social distancing, while pointing out that there is a distinction between the two.

“So, while they are physically distancing they don’t have to socially distance, and enjoy yourself in that bubble with one, two or three friends,” Dr. Bell says.

Persons can also make use of the virtual world to host their Christmas parties and dinners and to also connect with their friends and families via the various social platforms on the Internet, she says.

“And, even though it’s not ideal, we can’t continue to put a square peg in a round hole, because that’s when we become depressed, when we are trying to do the same thing in new circumstances,” Dr. Bell notes.

Once people adjust to the new circumstances, there is really no issue, Dr. Bell advises.

“And, for people who may feel like they are becoming lonely, what they could do is continue their routine, so that they are doing things daily, so that level of loneliness doesn’t set in,” she notes.

Furthermore, Dr. Bell says now is a time to not only think about self, but to think about others.

“So, if we distract ourselves by thinking about others, make a home-made card for several persons and send them off; get yourself occupied,” she further recommends.

As for the older people, many of whom are have become quite familiar with the virtual world and how to connect, she encourages family members to make scheduled calls to their older family members, so that they have a consistent stream of people checking on them.

On the other hand, Dr. Bell says it is equally important for the older folks themselves not to become self-absorbed and to think of others as well.

“There is something called social interest. When we take away the whole thought from ourselves and reach out to other people, no matter what age we are, it is psychologically well to do, and the more we reach out, the more people will be attracted to us and the whole process will be reciprocated,” she notes.

She tells JIS News that older folks can also fit into the bubble system, where families and friends bring them gifts and good cheer in small numbers, while observing physical distancing.

“Find the things, within the circumstances, that are going to make you happy and do it,” Dr. Bell advises.

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