Christmas and New Year can be an extremely difficult time of the year for some in our community. The impact of COVID-19 this year will make the festive period especially difficult as some islanders have not been able to see family and friends in the UK and further afield.
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. They have also published a standalone document containing key contact details along with health pathways if people need additional support over the Christmas period.
It’s clear that dates don’t make a difference when it comes to mental wellbeing, mental health issues, personal struggles, financial difficulties and other challenges. Regardless of the holidays, there is help and support available when you need it most.
Another useful resource is the NHS Every Mind Matters online resources. As well as lots of top tips and suggestion, they have an online questionnaire to ‘get your mind plan’. All you need to do is answer 5 quick questions to get a free plan to deal with stress and anxiety, improve your sleep, boost your mood and feel more in control.
Things to think about before the Christmas and New Year bank holidays.
- If you receive help and support from our mental health services please make sure you know who to contact if your health professional is on leave during the next 2 weeks.
- 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).
- If you find yourself, or a member of your family is, acutely unwell you should, in the first instance, seek support from the staff on duty at the Emergency Department.
- Put in place support plans with family and friends who are aware of the challenges you are facing. There is no shame in asking for help – whether it be from someone at the end of the phone who can listen or someone who can pop round with a hot meal when you can’t face shopping or cooking.
- And finally, try and stay off social media. All those posts of people having the perfect Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties do not help anyone’s wellbeing. Remember, these posts are meaningless and generally staged. You do not have to mirror these people to have had a good time. What is important is spending time with your loved ones. Your presence is much more important than presents!
Here are some suggestions on how you can help improve your mental wellbeing:
- Go for a walk outside in the fresh air (unless you are self-isolating) or try a home workout. Please do not leave your accommodation if you are self-isolating
- Try not to be glued to the news
- Think about how you can adapt your daily routine and set new goals
- Borrow and read an e-book from the Guernsey or Jersey Libraries’ online selections
- Learn how to meditate
- 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 game of sudoku
- Pick up an instrument or new craft to help focus your mind and pass the time
- Try a free online course from Future Learn
Lastly, if you feel your mental wellbeing is suffering this Christmas there are a number of organisations that can provide advice and support:
- Every Mind Matters – Tips from the NHS on looking after your mental health while staying at home
- GET.gg – CBT self-help therapy resources, including worksheets and information sheets and self-help mp3s
- Mind Jersey
- Mind – 5 Ways To Wellbeing from the leading mental wellbeing charity
- Action for Happiness – A movement aiming to help people take action for a happier and kinder world
If you, or a member of your family, still have serious concerns regarding their wellbeing, in the first instance you can call your GP for advice and support. Your GP will have a good knowledge of your history and your circumstances. They will be able to identify changes in your mood and suggest appropriate resources or treatment to help you.
Stay safe this Christmas and New Year!