Published: Dec. 14, 2016
Holiday lights

From family dinners to ugly sweater parties, the holidays can be a time of celebrating, feasting, and drinking. Whether holiday traditions, ringing in the new year, or just enjoying time at home are on your mind, here are a few things to consider when celebrating over winter break.

Escaping Holiday Stress

From the frantic pace and financial pressures of holiday shopping to being around family more than we’re used to, the holidays can feel as demanding as the semester itself. Finding positive ways to deal with this stress is key to making winter break actually feel like a break!

While some of us may see alcohol as a quick solution to the stress, research shows it can often lead to more stress and unhelpful outcomes. Mindfulness practices, physical activity, talking with friends, cooking, and getting outside for a winter walk are proven ways to combat the stress instead.

Seasonal Drinking

If we choose to drink, the amount we drink or the type of alcohol often changes during the holidays. These changes to what we may be familiar with can increase the risk of less desirable effects (like hangovers, alcohol poisoning, and drinking and driving).

It helps to reflect before getting into these situations on what our choices usually are around alcohol: do we drink during the school year? Do our friends’ and families’ drinking habits change our own habits when we spend time with them? How does being out of class influence our drinking behaviors? Once we’re aware of how we’re being impacted, we can make better, more aware decisions for ourselves.

And, holiday drinking isn’t a given for anyone. It’s always okay to say “no thanks” and still feel festive with a hot chocolate, peppermint mocha, or eggnog! If you’re hosting your own ugly sweater party, try making some of these alcohol-free holiday drinks so your guests have options.

Making a Plan

Driving during the winter months can be tricky enough without adding alcohol into the mix. It’s important that we make a plan for getting from place to place to stay safe and warm. Designated drivers, public transportation, and affordable rideshares all make solid options.

Downtown Boulder is offering $25 credits for Lyft and Uber through Jan. 1, and the buses in Boulder are free and running late on New Year’s Eve (plus, all CU Boulder students are issued an RTD bus pass).

However we choose to celebrate, it’s important to have a plan and stay aware of how we’re feeling and what we want from our winter break. Here’s to a happy, healthy holiday season!

This article is brought to you by Wardenburg Health Services. Visit us online at www.colorado.edu/health