The best Christmas gift this year is to look out and support each other

A Generic Photo of people clinking glasses at a Christmas party. See PA Feature FINANCE Christmas Sa

People enjoying a Christmas party. How different has yours been this year? - Credit: Press Association Images

Feels like hard work at the minute doesn't it?

We all know the run up to Christmas is normally quite a stressful period as we rush to get everything ready for the big day.

But at least you do so in the knowledge it will likely be more than worth it once you finally settle down and enjoy some time surrounded by the people that matter to you the most.

But this year feels different. 

There's all the usual stress - and then about a dozen or so other things to worry about on the side.

For a good while life almost felt like it had returned to normal. Pubs and restaurants were busy again, gigs, theatres and cinemas were up and running and the offices were buzzing once more with people. 

And then the threat of the Omicron strain of covid came along and stopped many of in our tracks. Suddenly everything has become a question, something to wrestle with your conscience over.

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- What do the new restrictions mean and how will they affect my life?

- Should I go that show or gig I've got tickets for or will there be a chance I'll get covid?

- Should the Christmas Party still happen and shall I go?

- Do I still send the children to school for the last week of term?

- Do I see my friends this Christmas or hunker down so as to try and ensure I'm not isolating on the big day?

- Will Christmas Day go as planned or do I need a plan B? 

It's hard to muster Christmas spirit with all that going on!

These are just some of the questions swilling around our brains at the minute and makes it no surprise experts are increasingly concerned about people's mental health the longer the pandemic goes on.

The Tunnel of Light is switched on in Norwich ahead of Christmas 2021 William and Nathan Smith Bylin

Norwich's Tunnel of Light remains a great place to go this Christmas - Credit: Sonya Duncan

The strange thing is that, from what I witness, the majority of people's worries are no longer centred upon fear of getting covid and ending up ill, or worse.

With jabs and boosters largely doing their job, most people's anxiety is focused upon the fear of getting covid and what day after day of isolation will mean for them and their lives. And right now that focus is on whether it ruins Christmas Day plans.

And in some weird way that might be a good thing. If we're less worried about the medical impact, then it's hopefully a sign the jabs are working and the virus is getting weaker.

If that happens, we may then be confident enough to carry on with normal life, even if covid is still circulating within society.

For that has to be the aim now.

We cannot keep lurching from one measure to the next, living in fear of what's around the corner and desperately wondering when it will all end.

To do that will continue to do damage to people's mental health, continue to put jobs and livelihoods at risk and continue to impact the younger generation, the ones I feel most sorry for in all of this.

For now, it's right that every precaution is taken until we can be reassured this latest strain is as weak as well all hope it will be. If, and when, we know that, the restrictions must be eased.

In the meantime the best Christmas present we can all give this year is to look out for each other and be aware that everyone currently has different levels of anxiety about the latest situation and different views on what they are comfortable doing.

I'm someone determined to be safe, but also determined to carry on with life in as normal way as possible.

But that doesn't mean my partner, friends or work colleagues feel the same and when that is the case, that's something we all need to respect, no matter what our own views.

Even though this pandemic is nearly two years old, these remain unprecedented times for many and we're all doing our best to try and find the way through choppy waters.

So let's keep looking out for each other and try to have the best Christmas we can - no matter where we end up.

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