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Christmas getting too much? Introducing NOEL

It’s Christmas, if you hadn’t already noticed from the relentless TV ads and underwhelming light-switch ons. But this year is set to be a bit different, with the prospect of another Covid Christmas dampening the usual buzz of office parties and family get-togethers.

Whether you’re dreading the thought of festivities in crowded places, or relishing the excuse to eat turkey sandwiches in your pjs - there’s no doubt that this Christmas is going to be a bit of strange one. But no fear, we’ve got a mate who can give you a hand this Christmas season. He’s called NOEL (pronounced like Edmonds, not joyeux) and he’s a Xmas pro. You’ve met his mate ALAN before, and his sage wisdom is just as important.

Jokes aside, we all know Christmas can be a tough time for a whole host of reasons - add a global pandemic to the mix and things can feel even trickier. Studies show that at least one in ten of us feel unable to cope during the festive season, while more than a quarter of us feel pressured to have the perfect Christmas. (Spoiler – that does not exist, we repeat that does not exist). But NOEL is here to help with some solid advice for Christmas and beyond.


It's ok to say no

With uncertainty clouding the holidays, it can be hard to conjure up the usual Christmas magic. Add to that stresses about mask-wearing, new restrictions, family tensions and money worries, sometimes it's good to know that Christmas is a choice - and one that you can say no to. Sure, it's probably not a good idea to just shut up shop completely, but if there was ever an excuse to take the pressure off the festive season, it’s now.

Worried about that Xmas work party because Graham's got a cold and never covers his mouth when he sneezes? Putting you and your nearest and dearests' health first is fine. And there'll be plenty of other parties to attend when this pandemic is over. Have a chat with your manager and there might even be an online do for those in the same boat.

Facing redundancy, or been hit by Universal Credit Cuts? If you're struggling for cash, racking up a bill on xmas tat is probably not a good idea. Set a budget that you can afford, and be honest about what is and isn't possible for your Christmas in 2021.

The key is being honest about whatever you're feeling - and giving people plenty of time to come to terms with whatever you choose. Letting Great Aunt Sheila you're not coming for Turkey with all the trimmings at 11 am on the big day might not be the best strategy.


Open up the conversation, and be open about how you feel.

The truth is, everyone is probably feeling a little weird this year. Acknowledging how we’re feeling and chatting to our loved ones can make us feel less alone. After last year's restrictions on who and how many people we could see, connecting with the people we care about (read friends, family, or your dog) is what Christmas is all about. Need someone to talk to? CALM is open 5pm to midnight on Christmas day and every day to chat about whatever you're going through - big or small.


Enjoy what you can.

You don’t have to swing from the rooftops singing Slade, but if you can take a moment to savour that mince pie, laugh at the crap dad joke on a Christmas jumper, or revel in the chance to watch Home Alone for the 16th year in a row, then do it.


Give yourself something to look forward to. You’ll get through this.

Granted it may take a while for things to head back to ‘normality’, but we’ve got high hopes for 2022. The past year has been tough on us all, so be kind to yourself and ditch the resolutions in favour of filling your calendar with things you can get excited about.

Above all, remember that Christmas is only a day, fold up the naff knitwear until next year and roll on sunshine, live music and the return of holidays. Let’s face it, a boozy BBQ with your pals beats soggy sprouts any day.

Now you’ve met Noel, he’ll be popping up over the festive season and beyond to help you have a CALM Christmas and New Year.


Remember, if you or your mate are in need of immediate help, CALM’s helpline and webchat are open 5pm to midnight every day 0800 58 58 58.

Illustration by Elliot Kruszynski.