For many of us, winter break brings much needed relief, but it can also be a source of stress or anxiety. Whether you’re looking forward to winter break or dreading it, here are a few survival tips to help you make the most of December.
#1 Set boundaries
Boundaries can help provide structure and allow us to maintain healthy relationships. If you’re planning on visiting friends or family over break, it can be helpful to set boundaries and expectations up front. Let people know what your plans are, including how long you plan to be around and how much one-on-one time you expect to spend together.
This is also a great time to discuss your family’s expectations for you while you’re at home. For instance, you may be expected to follow a curfew, help with chores, attend certain events or take on other responsibilities. Having a conversation in advance can help you avoid unwanted tension and create a more positive experience at home over break.
#2 Get into a routine
Winter break can be a great time to unwind after a long semester. However, the transition between campus and home can sometimes feel abrupt. Significant changes to our usual routines and schedules can make it hard to adjust.
That’s why it’s important to get into a routine. A good way to get started is by going to bed and waking up at the same time each day. Getting 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night will help you feel more rested. It can also help improve your memory, mood and immune system.
It may also be helpful to plan out your days in advance, so you can balance all of your priorities, like work, alone time and quality time with friends or family.
#3 Find healthy ways to cope with stress
Holidays can be stressful, especially if we have had negative experiences in the past. Prepare for stressful or anxious situations by brainstorming coping strategies and positive outlets for your stress ahead of time. Some healthy strategies include physical activity, connecting with friends, mindfulness practices (e.g. guided meditations, mindful walking, etc.), cooking or getting outside. Explore different options to figure out what works best for you.
It’s also important to be mindful of our alcohol and substance use. During times of high stress, some of us may turn to alcohol, marijuana or other substances as a way to relax or relieve stress. However, research shows that overindulging in substances or using substances to cope can cause more stress and unwanted impacts in the long run. Instead, stick to the healthy alternatives you identified above.
#4 Take a moment to reflect
Whether you set New Year’s resolutions or not, break can provide us with time to reflect on our accomplishments and look forward to what the upcoming semester or year has to hold.
Think back on your accomplishments or things you’ve overcome this year and write down the things you are most proud of. This could include doing well on finals, successfully changing your major, making new friends or simply getting through a tough time. Take a moment to celebrate all of the things that you did this year, no matter how small.
Think about what you hope to accomplish over the next few months. Perhaps you’d like to improve your grades, land an internship or job, be more active or become more involved on campus. Identify your goals and break them down into manageable steps. For instance, if your goal is to land an internship, think about the things you’ll need to do to get there like exploring career paths, researching companies, creating or updating your resume, etc. Create a timeline for yourself of when you’d like to complete each task and remember to celebrate milestones on the way to your end goal.
#5 Make time for yourself
Most importantly, winter break is a time to reset and feel refreshed. Make time to focus on yourself and your needs. Practice self-care, dive into your hobbies or get out and try something new.
As we approach break and the end of the semester, Health and Wellness Services wants to ensure all students have access to the care and support services they need, no matter where you are.
Check out wellness services available over winter break