Christmas can be a time of enjoyment, relaxation, and being together with families. But it can also bring stresses, and for many people it is a challenging or even lonely time of year.
The impact of COVID-19 this year will again make the festive period especially difficult as some islanders will not be able to celebrate with loved ones.
Mental health doesn’t take time off at Christmas, and with all the added stresses that can come with the festive season it’s very important to care for your wellbeing.
If you, or a loved one, feels that your wellbeing has been affected please remember to look after yourself, talk to other people and, if needed, seek some support. The States of Guernsey has dedicated webpages which include advice and support for those who are alone this Christmas and for those who are struggling.
The Committee for Health & Social Care has introduced a additional temporary service over Christmas and the New Year that will provide some wellbeing support for anyone who is feeling isolated or experiencing moderate levels of stress or distress.
This is not to replace any existing mental health service but is additional for anyone who feels they need additional support but who might not ordinarily either seek it or meet the clinical threshold for more acute support services. Anyone who requires support from the specialist secondary care mental health service should still seek referral through their GP.
The new support service over the Christmas period will work as follows:
In addition to this temporary service, HSC mental health and wellbeing professionals have put together some tips help you over the Christmas period – whether that is about not over- indulging too much; coping with a bit too much time around family; feeling left out; or many other potential stresses.
Avoid unnecessary stress over the festive season by planning as much as possible in the run up to Christmas and being careful not to take on too much. You’re not being selfish by saying “no” to some things or asking for some help. For example, if you’re hosting Christmas dinner, could you ask some of your guests to bring a starter or dessert?
Make time for you
At Christmas it can be all too easy to get swept up into other people’s ideas of fun. It’s important to make sure that you do something you want as well – this is your celebration too! If you know this will be hard, try booking something in advance or setting a free day or two aside just for you.
If you do decide to use social media over the festive season, avoid comparing your experience to those of your friends. Remember that most people only share the best bits of their lives online and you don’t know what’s going on behind the smiling selfies and present pics!
Give yourself time to relax over the Christmas period – don’t be afraid to take time out to go for a walk, listen to music or have a nap if you need it. If you’re hosting, try to plan this in advance.
Going for a wintery walk – even if it’s just around the block – can be the perfect way to get some fresh air and exercise along with a change of place. Being in the same house for too long can get a bit intense, so a change of scenery will do everyone good!
Try to eat healthily
While it’s normal to overindulge a bit over Christmas, try to keep your diet as balanced as possible with lots of fruit and vegetables. This will help you to avoid energy lows that can have an effect on your mood.
Alcohol in moderation
While a bit of alcohol can make you feel relaxed, don’t forget that drinking too much can leave you feeling irritable and low. Drinking within the recommended guidelines means you’ll get to enjoy a Christmas tipple, while reducing the negative effects on your mood. Alcohol can also play a big part in arguments and disagreements, so it’s sensible to drink in moderation.
Get enough sleep
Feeling sleepy can also leave you feeling low, so try to keep to regular sleep patterns as much as possible over the Christmas period.
Talk to someone
If you’re worried about Christmas or feel overwhelmed or under pressure, don’t be afraid to talk to someone about it. Have a chat to someone you trust.
Exercise can be great for mental health and there are still ways to keep it up over Christmas! Have a boogie to some festive classics or head outside for a walk in the fresh air.
If you’re spending Christmas alone, have a think about what you want to do beforehand. You may decide to curl up with a favourite movie or arrange to go to a lunch.
It’s no secret – giving something back can help you feel good about yourself and there’s no more perfect time to volunteer than around Christmas.
There are also lots of resources you can use to keep you well during your time at home. Here are some suggestions:
Try not to be glued to the news
Think about how you can adapt your daily routine and set new goals
Borrow an e-book from the Guille-Allès Library’s online selection
Listen to a new podcast such as “Feel better, live more” with Dr Rangan Chatterjee, “Happy Place” with Fearne Cotton, Bryony Gordon’s “Mad World” or perhaps the TED Radio Hour Podcast
Experiment in the kitchen with some new recipes
Challenge yourself with a sudoku
Pick up an instrument or new craft to help focus your mind and pass the time or try a free online course from Future Learn
If you feel your mental wellbeing is suffering this Christmas, there are a number of organisations that can provide advice and support:
Tips from the NHS on looking after your mental health while staying at home
CBT self-help therapy resources, including worksheets and information sheets and self-help mp3s
5 Ways To Wellbeing from the leading mental wellbeing charity
A movement aiming to help people take action for a happier and kinder world
The following organisations for support:
If you need to speak to your GP their contact details are as follows:
Healthy Minds offers short-term therapeutic interventions for adults who have mild to moderate anxiety and depression. Healthy Minds was previously called the Primary Care Mental Health & Wellbeing Service.
The primary aim of the service is to enable people to learn healthier coping strategies to improve their wellbeing and to manage their difficulties themselves.
You can self-refer to Healthy Minds by calling 707744 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
More information can be found here: https://gov.gg/healthyminds
Over the Christmas and New Year period services provided by the States of Guernsey will continue. If an urgent referral into these services is needed during this period, staff will be on call to carry out the necessary assessments.
The Duty and Intervention team is the gateway to secondary adult mental health services. They receive referrals from GPs, the Emergency Department, Prison, Police and wards at the PEH. This team will provide an assessment within 24 hours for emergency referrals.
Probation services will continue to work with offenders on release from prison. They also run domestic abuse programmes for convicted and non-convicted people.
The Community Drug and Alcohol team (CDAT) work with people over the age of 18 who are dependent on alcohol and or drugs.
Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) provide comprehensive assessments and treatments for children and young people with mental health problems.
If you are experiencing a mental health crisis this Christmas and already receive support from secondary care mental health services, please contact your keyworker or the staff member providing cover for them – outside of normal opening hours please call or attend the Emergency Department at the PEH.
If you are not receiving care and support, other than social support, talking therapies etc and are experiencing a mental health crisis you can the Emergency Department on 01481 220000 or contact one of the following:
Action for Children: 01481 700218. Opening hours 9:00am to 5:00pm
Community Advice and Listening Line (C.A.L.L): 0800 132737 Text ‘help’ to 81066. OH: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Childline: 0800 1111. OH: 9:00am to midnight
Guernsey Police: 01481 725111 or email@example.com. OH: 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
Papyrus/Hope Line UK: 0800 068 4141, 07860039967 (text only) or firstname.lastname@example.org- seminar.flywheelsites.com. OH: 9:00am to 10:00pm weekdays
2:00pm to 10:00pm weekends/bank holidays
Samaritans: Free call 116 123, 01481 711030 or email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org. OH: Monday 8:00am to 10:30am, 6:00pm to 10:30pm - Tuesday 8:00pm to 10:30pm - Wednesday 10:30am to 10:30pm - Thursday 3:30pm to 10:30pm - Friday 8:00pm to 10:30pm - Saturday 5:00pm to 7:00pm
Social Services Assessment and Intervention Team and Multi Agency Support Hub (Swissville): 01481 723182 or email@example.com. OH: 8:45am to 4:45pm Monday to Friday
And don’t forget:
• If you take medication for a mental health condition, please make sure you have enough or be aware that pharmacies may change their opening hours may change over the next 2 weeks (this also applies generally for anyone in the community who takes regular prescription medicines).