Self-care tips for the Christmas holiday season

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Grace Williams, Third Year Experimental Psychology

Christmas can be an intense time. Having to find a balance between socialising, attending parties, studying and looking after yourself can become tricky. Grace Williams tells us about her top tips regarding wellbeing this Christmas season and for the run up to January exams.

1. No one really minds if you don’t go to the party.

Dealing with social anxiety over the Christmas season can be extremely difficult.

Do I go to the party?
Will people hate me if I don’t go?
Why can’t I just suck it up and have fun?

As a kid, Christmas parties and celebrations were the best part of the Christmas holidays.
However, situations with lots of large groups of people can be stressful when you’re anxious and feeling the pressure of getting into the Christmas spirit, especially if you’re struggling and couldn’t be feeling less festive if you tried.

But that’s okay!

What I have learnt over the recent years is that no one really minds if you don’t go to the party. If people are upset that you’re not going, chances are, its only because they enjoy your company and want to spend time with you! However, a good friend won’t hold it against you if you don’t feel up to going out. Try and be honest and tell them how you’re feeling about the situation. Maybe you can compromise and have a Christmas movie night with them or do something on your terms that you feel comfortable with! Don’t pressurize yourself too much; there will be plenty of parties to enjoy in your lifetime.

2. To work or not to work???

Unfortunately with the way our terms are set up, most of us will have an absurd amount of work to complete over the holidays. As a perfectionist, in the past I have put way too much time into revising over the Christmas holidays and then ended up not really having a break the whole academic year – please learn from my mistakes, don’t do this to yourself!

I can safely say this is not a good tactic and I am pretty sure my grades would have been better if I had allowed myself to relax a whole lot more. A good way of managing your time - and your stress levels - is to write out a list or vague study plan at the beginning of the holidays so you can see how much you have to do. Then separate the work into manageable chunks and go through them on days when you don’t have nice things planned. I also find that setting a timeframe during the day for when I will do work, and not allowing myself to work after dinner, works well for me: I am an early bird so this schedule would be different for everyone. The main point is, make sure you timetable in breaks and don’t work into them! Your mind will not work efficiently if it is not allowed the time to recharge.

3. Reminder that you deserve to eat and nourish your body always not just at Christmas!

Having a healthy mind requires having a healthy body and eating habits. This can also be difficult in the Christmas season, especially for people with eating disorders. There is no right amount of food to eat, everyone’s body is different and needs different things. I would say though that it is definitely good for your soul to eat the foods you love while also nourishing your body. Eat well and don’t listen to your distant family members if they start talking about how many calories are in that piece of chocolate Yule log.

4. “Christmas is about what you give, not what you receive.”

Christmas time can be very cold, and also very lonely. And just like the flipping freezing winter air, loneliness can creep in at the edges, even when you are surrounded by people that love you. Family celebrations like Christmas can be a harsh reminder of the loved ones that aren’t there. Be mindful that when people have lost someone, either recently or long ago and Christmas and other celebrations may not feel quite right without them.
Some students may not be able to go home for Christmas. If you know of a friend that’s in this situation, ask if there’s anything you could do together to help them feel more included. Cherish the loved ones you have around you, spread love and try to be present.

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One way of being proactive and helping yourself and others to feel more connected is to think about what you can give to the people around you. Write down three things you have to offer - this can literally be anything:

You can bake some Christmas shortbread for a friend. This has three ingredients: sugar, butter, and flour. So it is very good if you’re on a budget!
Make or buy Christmas cards and send them out to your loved ones.
Help out at a community coffee morning.
Tell your pals you appreciate them.
Give some of your old clothes to a charity shop.

... the list is endless.

In other words, to quote my lovely Nana - and I’m sure lots of other lovely nana’s in the world- “Christmas is about what you give, not what you receive.”

Take care of yourselves this Christmas and be mindful that some people will be struggling underneath all the festivities.

Featured Image: Unsplash / Annie Spratt


How will you look after yourself this Christmas season? Comment below or get in touch!

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