Getting the best out of this winter break
The end of 2021 is fast approaching and the holiday season is on the horizon.
Whilst some of us may be looking forward to a bit of a break or a chance to see friends and family, this time of year is often considered as quite stressful, and for some it can be quite difficult and isolating.
This year could look different from the more locked down winter last year. There may be an expectation to have bigger groups and families gathering together, there may be more obligations and more pressure to manage this time.
The University will have closure days from Thursday 23 December and we reopen the service again on Tuesday 4 January 2022, so if times are difficult and you want a supportive chat, please do reach out to us, we are here for a good proportion of this time.
But, for now, here are a few handy reminders on navigating this festive period.
Don’t throw your timetables out of the window
We can often feel really stretched during this time of year. Juggling course demands, family commitments, seeing friends and getting in some much needed down time. There may be organisation and preparation of events, and travel also to consider. This time of year the routine of days can be more unpredictable, and guests may be dropping in at short notice.
Just like during term time, it may be worth creating a timetable for this period, to get a clear sense of where your energy might need to be focused, identify what commitments you have and where you may need to block in rest.
Set aside a regular time of day and space where you can do a bit of study
The start of the day might be a good time to plan a short burst of study, as it is when you might feel most fresh, be undisturbed and be more likely to stick to, as it might not be realistic to think you may get to study after a long day of interacting with people.
Thinking ahead and setting in your mind what feels like a good time to study may also help manage anxiety, rather than wondering and stressing about when you might be able to find time the time.
It is also worth creating a study space if you haven’t already set one up. Sorting a tidy spot to study and keep your notes in an easy and accessible place can help you keep motivated to check in with regular burst of study.
Enlist others for support
Let those around you know about your plans, and ask for their support.
Family might be able to discourage distraction or noise during this the times you plan to study and invite people over at more suitable times.
Letting them know in advance also means that if any visitors are scheduled (or arrive unplanned!) during the times you need to study, you have already set the expectation that you may not be available.
It might be helpful to think about setting some boundaries around the things you can and can’t accomplish during the holidays and allow you to communicate this early too so you can set expectations.
For those of you managing family commitments and course work, delegating things that you might have typically done in years before you were studying might be one way to lessen the load. Sharing these duties & setting realistic expectations for yourself could help if you have a tendency to try and take it all on and give to others.
Table topics can vary between households, but it is reasonable to predict that the focus might fall upon how university is going as friends and family show interest in how you are doing and what you’ve been up to.
If being asked about university and assignments over the dinner table or buffet is going to feel stressful during the time where you are meant to be relaxing, it might help to think about what you might want to say to shift the focus back to another topic and feel less on the spot.
Having a short answer prepared might be worth a try. Putting forward a comment about something you have enjoyed about university and then asking a question back. Or saying something like “university is going well, but to be honest I’d rather think about something else when I am on holiday, have you heard that ____”
If you are feeling isolated, there is connection to be found
This time of year can be very challenging. We can often find ourselves comparing our lives with others, or even different times in our own life. Logically we know that the “perfect” festive time is a bit of a myth, but when we feel lonely this time of year can be understandably upsetting and emotionally draining.
We hope you found these tips and pointers useful. Wishing you a wonderful and relaxing winter break, and do get in touch if you would like some support.
Further support and useful links
- Check out your support network during Christmas closure 23 Dec – 3 Jan
- Christmas 2021 events happening in and around Brighton
- Togetherall, the 24/7 online community and professional support from trained counsellors
About the author
Katie Rivers is the Student Support and Guidance Tutor (SSGT) for students in the School of Sports and Health Sciences (at Falmer). The Uni wellbeing team, including our SSGT service is around for most of this period, closing between 23 Dec – 4 Jan so please do reach out to us if you would like to talk. Contact details and further details available on the Student Support and Guidance Tutor (SSGT) web page.