The Wellbeing Blog: How to Look After your Wellbeing over the Festive Season
Student experience 18th December 2020
Whether you are celebrating Christmas or not, the festive season can sometimes be a challenging time… this year even more so! The pressure of social situations, family obligations, and spending time with people you may not have seen for a long time can have an impact on wellbeing, so here are a few reflections on how to look after yourself over the coming weeks.
Drop the Pressure
- Unfortunately, real life doesn’t stop for Christmas. Try not to put yourself under any pressure to have the ‘perfect’ festive season or feel guilty if you aren’t enjoying yourself due to external stresses.
- Many of us will be feeling the financial pressure of giving gifts at this time of year. Remember that your family and friends won’t want you to get into financial trouble for the sake of buying presents. Why not think of some cheap (or free) ideas such as baking, crafting, or making ‘vouchers’ for future favours and activities? Remember that it’s the thought that counts and small sentimental gifts often mean more to people than big budget luxury items!
- Although we will all be socialising less this year due to the current Government Restrictions, there may still be times when you feel under pressure to join in with social activities you don’t feel up to. Make sure you schedule in some time to yourself and remember that it is always your right to say ‘no’.
Comparison is the thief of Joy
- If you find yourself spending too long envying the neighbour’s Christmas tree or your best friend’s haul of gifts, it’s time to take a step back. Remember that everyone is in a different situation and what looks rosy on the outside might not always be as it seems.
- Try taking some time away from Social Media, be it a full day or a just few hours. This is the perfect time of year to switch off and enjoy some time away from screens!
- Why not try writing a list or talking to your loved ones about what you are grateful for this year?
Set your Boundaries
Although Christmas in the UK will be different this year, many of us will still be spending time with another household or two, and this can sometimes put us under pressure. Many of us can find it difficult to mix with friends/relatives who may have differing political opinions or moral values. It is important to protect your own mental health and wellbeing when faced with these situations.
- Make sure to set your boundaries. Take time to yourself if and when you need it, and reach out to speak to someone if you are feeling uncomfortable.
- Remember that it is not anyone else’s right to criticise your lifestyle choices, sexuality, weight or appearance! Keep in touch with your support base if you are struggling with unwanted comments around the dinner table.
- With January exams on the horizon, many students will be under pressure to balance study time with family commitments. Try making the importance of this and any intended revision schedule clear to your loved ones at the start of your time together, to avoid any arguments or pressure later down the line.
New Year, New Me?
With the start of 2021 in sight, it will soon be time for talk of ‘Resolutions’ amongst friends and in the media. Here are a few things that may help to protect your wellbeing during this time:
- Try to remember the 1st of January is just another day, there is no need to make huge changes if you don’t want to! You could just as easily make a resolution on a rainy Tuesday in September.
- If you do find this a useful opportunity to make changes to your life, remember to set small and manageable goals… and be gentle with yourself if you don’t stick to them.
- Try to take some time away from social and/or traditional media if you find that you are being negatively affected by companies pushing diet and weight loss products. Remember to curate your media intake to ensure you are only viewing content which is beneficial to you and won’t cause you any harm. There are plenty of fantastic body positivity and wellbeing accounts you may find useful during this time- you’ll find some suggestions in the ‘Useful Links’ section below.
Isolation and Loneliness
Christmas can be a lonely time for some and this will have been exacerbated by the social distancing restrictions put in place for this year. Take advantage of the technology available to you by arranging video or phone calls with loved ones during the break, and remember that there are many national and local community groups who will be able to lend an ear if you need to talk. You are not alone.
A Safe Space
Not everyone will be spending Christmas in a household where they feel safe. Please remember that essential support services will remain open to you over the festive period if you find yourself in danger or a time of crisis- there are details of these in the ‘Useful Links’ section.
Take a look at some advice from Mental Health Organisation, Heads Above the Waves: If Home is Not a Safe Space
University Support Services over the break- Christmas support services website
Help in a crisis and mental health support – Samaritans
Domestic Abuse Support- National DA Helpline
Free text service if you need to talk- Shout
Loneliness at Christmas- #joinin Twitter Campaign
LGBT+ Christmas Survival Guide- LGBT Foundation
Have a good rest. It’s been a tough year for everyone and you deserve it!
My name’s Jess and I work in the Department of Chemistry as a Student Support Administrator. I have a background in pastoral support, safeguarding and education, and am passionate about supporting the mental health and wellbeing of students. You can get in touch with any questions or suggestions by emailing Jessica.firstname.lastname@example.org or follow on Twitter for more related content @HingleyJess