Blog: How I de-stress over Christmas

Written by Student Content Shaper Kimberley Okwuasaba

Our official UoB Countdown to Christmas kicked off last week; meaning for many – it’s a time to reconnect with loved ones, put up and enjoy the beautiful decorations and eat loads of yummy Christmas puddings! 

While I’m feeling very excited about the festivities, especially those taking place on campus, along with the excitement that inevitably comes with Christmas, just like many others, I’ve personally felt the pressure that sometimes comes with Christmas. Although it is that magical time of year, it can be easy to feel stressed and anxious in the lead-up to and during the Christmas period. In fact, data found by STATISTA has revealed that 17% of young people felt lonelier during the Christmas period.  

So, it’s important to remember that it’s not uncommon to feel like this or experience a bit of the ‘holiday blues’ during December. Don’t feel like you ‘should’ be having fun this Christmas if you’re not. It’s okay to feel how you feel! 

Whatever you're feeling, you’re not alone, and there are plenty of services and support you can access at UoB if you need it. Looking after yourself during this season is so important so in this blog, I’m going to be sharing some advice on how to relax and tackle any feelings of loneliness during the Christmas period. 

Remember, it’s okay to take a break 

For many students, such as myself, the Christmas period is also a time of increased stress from academic workload, assignment deadlines and feeling overwhelmed with upcoming exams in the New Year. It’s not surprising then that during the Christmas period, we’re busy thinking about how to study or revise for exams.  

While you might feel the pressure to bounce back in time for the upcoming Semester, it’s always so important to prioritise taking a break from your work! Why not get creative or take up a new hobby? 

This can include (but of course, is not limited to) watching your favourite feel-good film (mine is Elf), journaling, listening to your favourite Christmas hits, or even trying out a new hobby altogether.  

Personally, I really enjoy doing different creative activities that I know I loved doing very much as a child. For example, drawing and creating art always helps me to both unwind and destress in the most freeing (and chaotic!) way possible.

kimberley's drawings

You don’t have to be the next Van Gogh, just have a go at releasing any negative energy onto some paper and see where it takes you. 

Prioritise your physical wellbeing too

We often forget to take care of ourselves on the outside, as well as the inside, especially if you’re a student. Eating healthy, getting a good amount of sleep and exercising regularly can make a huge difference to how you feel, especially sleep!

I don’t know about you, but those late-night study sessions can really add up and I’ve found that the Christmas holidays are a great opportunity to catch up on any sleep that I may have lost during the last semester. That, and alongside snuggling up next to my cat, Gem.

kimberley's cats

If you struggle with keeping a regular sleep routine, I always find it helpful to have regular sleep and wake times, reduce my screen time before bed and write down any thoughts I have before bedtime so I can wake up with a fresh start. 

Do some things you enjoy 

Another great way to relax is by going on walks and enjoying nature! Did you know that there’s research showing how even a short 10-minute walk can boost your mood and alertness? Perhaps meet a family member or a friend or set yourself a new goal of trying out a new walking route around campus.

If enduring the cold Christmas weather doesn’t excite you, that’s fine too! Just being able to clear your head and relax is the most impart part. Perhaps listen to an inspirational podcast from the comfort of your home and take a break from your screen. Emerging yourself in uplifting, motivational content can really help. 

Christmas can undoubtedly be overwhelming, so never feel pressured to be social if you aren’t in the right head space. It's easier said than done sometimes but do your best to prioritise your own mental health and wellbeing. 

Reach out for help

Reach out for help if you are struggling over the Christmas period, whether that’s by talking to family or friends, or visiting our Time to Talk? intranet page for a full list of resources and support.

Although most university services are usually closed over the Christmas period, UBHeard (a 24/7 confidential listening and support service for all undergraduate and postgraduate students) will still be available.  

Understandably, a lot of what has been said in this blog is easier said than done – particularly if you are currently in a state of anxiety, loneliness, or sadness. I know that reaching out can especially be difficult as well, but please know that you are not alone in this whatsoever. Be loving and kind to yourself, especially during this Christmas break, and be reassured that feelings of loneliness are common and far from permanent. 

Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas to you all – you’ve got this!

Stay informed about campus celebrations during our Countdown to Christmas by checking our intranet pages.


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