Holidays are meant to be a time filled with fun, but for many young students, it can take its toll in unexpected ways.
Here are some mindful ways to practise self-care when you’re not coping.
Acknowledge your feelings
“Holiday blues” are different to clinical depression because they don’t linger and generally clear up once you’re back into the swing of things. Even so, short-term sadness needs to be dealt with. And contrary to popular belief, being on holiday doesn’t mean it’s easier to be happy. Fatigue, sadness, loneliness and frustration are all common signs that you’re suffering from holiday blues. Suppressing these emotions takes a further toll on you. Acknowledge that you feel the way you feel and find an emotional outlet that will help combat any sadness. Talk to someone who offers you invaluable emotional support, be that a therapist or friend.
Create a routine
Set small, achievable goals for yourself. Take ownership of your schedule and create a routine that works for you and one that you can stick to.
Make a list and organise and prioritise activities.
When creating a list:
- Be realistic about what you can and can’t do but leave a little room for bursts of spontaneity.
- Focus on ticking off tasks on your list that are laborious.
- Include scheduled visits and outings with friends and family.
It’s a clinical approach, but one that will help to focus your direction in a constructive and productive manner. A structured plan also means you’re less likely to overcommit and overextend yourself.
Holidays usually mean excess fun and parties, but the amount of alcohol you consume when you’re experiencing a mood dip won’t help. Alcohol is a known depressant and can exacerbate other unhealthy behavioural patterns that contribute to holiday depression.
Sleep it off
It’s tempting to party all night long when you’re on holiday, but not getting enough rest only adds to feelings of sadness. Lack of sleep leaves you feeling apathetic and lethargic during the day. Frequent bouts of lethargy due to little or no rest can contribute to depressive episodes.
One of the best ways to beat the blues is to get out and help someone else. Find a cause you’re passionate about and do some volunteering. It not only provides you with an opportunity to broaden your social network and skills, but the reward in helping others in need is an instant mood booster.
The holiday season is financially tough, particularly for students. You don’t have to spend all your money on other people or buying gifts. Have fun but be strict if you’ve set yourself a budget. Most importantly, set boundaries by saying no to spending money on something you didn’t plan for and don’t really need.
Find time for yourself
Spending time relaxing and doing things you love is one of the best ways to get out of a depressive funk. You don’t have to fill your calendar with an influx of events. Social obligations don’t outweigh the need for some quality downtime. Spend time reading a book, doing a bit of gardening or enjoy another hobby you love. Indulging in activities you enjoy will bolster both your energy and your mood.