By Madeika, ACES Peer Health Educator
As the semester comes to a close, stress levels naturally rise across campus. Not only that, the winter holiday season is often fraught with worry and brings about mixed feelings among students. Between tending to loved ones and studying for demanding classes, the end of the year can be a bittersweet time for many. During this busy time, it’s important to continue to take care of oneself. Below are a few suggestions that may alleviate holiday stress.
Know Your Stressors
Stress is normal. In fact, a moderate amount of stress is considered to be healthy. Eustress, more commonly known as positive stress, induces feelings of excitement, motivation, and fulfillment. This type of stress typically predates the first day at a new job or riding a rollercoaster. On the other hand, distress can evoke feelings of fatigue and burnout. Prolonged, distress can wreak havoc on our mental state.
To mitigate the damage caused by distress, recognize your stressors and work around them. Stressors differ from person to person. Some stressors may be purely school-related while others may also involve our personal life. Know what you can and can’t handle — and own it. Ask for help when you need it. There’s no shame in honoring your limits.
Let Go of Expectations
Unmet expectations are the root cause of disappointment and the holidays are rife with expectations. Recognize that social media is not real life. Rarely do we share our negative moments online. Your self-worth is not measurable by the amount of likes you receive on your Christmas tree decorations. Understand that many of us are stretched thin and be reasonable in your expectations of yourself and others this holiday season. Things may not go according to plan and that’s okay!
Practice Gratitude & Self-Compassion
Gratitude and self-compassion are key to remaining optimistic throughout this winter break. Consider reflecting on the people or events in your life that have made a positive impact in your life. If possible, let others know that you are grateful for them. Similarly, extend yourself grace and celebrate your wins this semester. Embrace the hiccups in your academic journey and reframe obstacles as learning opportunities.
Many students struggle mentally during winter break as they may associate the holiday season with loss or lack resources to continue supporting themselves when the semester ends. Consider receiving additional support from the Center for Student Wellness as well as various other departments on campus. We are here to help you!
Madeika Vercella is a fourth year Honors English Literature student and Mental Wellness ACES Peer Health Educator.