round red and white cake with cookies toppings

I’m guessing that by now many of us will have had some experience of a lockdown birthday due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Whilst it may not have been a special decade birthday or one which warranted special attention it may well, under normal circumstances, have resulted in a meal out, a few drinks with family and friends, with a little something to highlight the occasion.

It’s nice to have our birthday marked with a modicum of fuss and recognition.

Other celebrations too have been forced to become more low-key or even cancelled this year, with weddings, anniversaries and other momentous personal events almost deleted due to the pandemic. Venues, florists, caterers, entertainers, suppliers and associated staff have all suffered financially, as well as the significant disappointment and distress experienced by those affected personally.

How can we appreciate and even celebrate a happy lockdown birthday?

– It’s important to start with gratitude. Start by being thankful for your health. If those around you are fit and well then that’s something to acknowledge and be thankful for. But the financial and personal impact of this year on those around us cannot be discounted. How affected have those in your life been? Whilst, you may have lost out on your birthday festivities others have lost their livelihoods, their businesses, many relationships have hit rock bottom. Upon reflection, your birthday may be low-key this year but you can promise yourself a lavish catch up to compensate once things are back to more normal opening again.

– Instead, be imaginative and enjoy treats using what is open and available to you. Many of us are still able to go for local walks. If there’s a park, canal, beach or attractive place in nature nearby decide to take a pleasant walk, run or bike ride. It’s good to get out in nature, even if the weather’s a little cold or wet. You can come back to the delights of steaming mugs of hot chocolate, toasted crumpets or a delicious stew or casserole that’s been cooking slowly whilst you’ve been out.

– If you’re on your own ensure that you’ve planned ways to make your solitary birthday a little brighter. This means thinking in advance of pleasant ways you’d like to spend the day. Stocking up on your favourite foods, looking forward to time with a good book, selecting TV shows or films you’d like to watch, having a relaxing bath with candles and warmed towels, arranging phone or zoom calls to family and friends, these are all positive options you can plan ahead to make the most of your happy lockdown birthday.

Online is a great way to keep in touch, but not everyone has access to it. For those who do, sharing zoom parties can be a good way to keep in touch and spend time together, perhaps to celebrate a special occasion or even a memorial to someone passed. Book clubs, quiz nights, singalongs, even sharing affectionate memories and anecdotes can make a lonely or tough time more bearable and even pleasant or fun.

– Let people know it’s your birthday, especially your ‘friends’ on social media. Receiving cards and good wishes are especially important this year with so many of us missing out on personal contact with loved ones. Many people are all too aware of this and are happy to be supportive and wish you well. Enjoy receiving their good wishes and congratulations. It can be fun receiving cards or checking in to read messages and keep in mind the possibility of opening up conversations and even new friendships.

In life, there are things that we can change and others that we can’t, that we just have to tolerate, go along with and learn to take one day at a time. COVID-19 and its impact is one such situation. Living our lives as fully as we can, picking our way through the negatives and trying to source some joy and appreciation for what we do have, thus making the best of a bad situation, is the healthiest way to share the love and have a happy lockdown birthday.

Susan Leigh, counsellor, hypnotherapist and relationship counsellor.

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