It’s the most wonderful time of the year…with the holidays around the corner and the end of the semester upon us, there’s a lot to look forward to – but this time of year might also come with stressors. There are finals, graduations and concerns about employment, and family holiday stress. Just one of these would be stressful enough, but when there are several stressors at once, it can feel insurmountable. It’s completely doable, though – and today’s blog will take a look at how to manage your stress during the holidays.
Don’t overindulge. Sure, it’s the holidays, so enjoy your grandma’s pumpkin pie or your mom’s desserts, and have that glass of wine (or two). But it’s also good to stay mindful of your health and eat right and watch your alcohol consumption. Overeating all vacation and drinking too much will make you feel physically sluggish, and can add to your stress – not to mention, alcohol is a depressant and can add to feelings of sadness, as well as interfere with your sleep. Why not eat mostly healthy and take this time to catch up on much-needed sleep and rest? (PS – check out our blog about diet and stress to learn more).
Take a breather. Sure, you can bring some research home and try to get ahead (or catch up!), but don’t forget to take some time off. Go to a movie with friends or family. Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Spend time with family you don’t often get to see. Take a walk in the snow.
Work smart. If you DO do work over your holiday break, set manageable goals. Write something each day – it could be a page, or even a paragraph. Or read a chapter in a text – try not to stress during this time; instead, use it as a time to recharge while still maintaining your productivity.
Get crafty. Most grad students are on a budget, and holidays can create financial stress. If you have to fly or take a train home, that’s an extra expense. You might be anxious about affording gifts for everyone. You don’t have to go all out with gifts – why not get creative? Today’s apps and services make it easier than ever to do this. Snag photos off of your relatives’ Facebook or Instagram and put together calendars or books (see Snapfish or Chatbooks). Hit up craft fairs for affordable, unique gifts for people, and don’t underestimate the power of a thoughtful gift like a bag of their favorite coffee or a book they’ve been wanting to read – or even treating them to a cup of tea at their favorite coffee/tea house and some good conversation.
Reduce stress where you can. If you’re traveling home for the holidays, tie up all loose ends before leaving school. Return or renew your library books; do a thorough cleaning of your apartment or room –and clean out the refrigerator, especially any perishables; have your mail forwarded or held for the time you’re away; pay your rent and utilities ahead of time if you can, if you won’t be home for the due date; tidy up your office on campus before heading out; and try to finish anything else you don’t want hanging over your head while you’re at home. Take the holiday break to refuel and recharge, so you can come back next semester ready to dive into your work!
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