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Looking After Yourself this Christmas

Alice Gallagher Student Life

1 birthday party on Monday night; 2 interviews on Tuesday; 3 meetings on Wednesday; 4 evening shifts at work; 5 essays due for next Friday; and 6 people to buy gifts for - all tied up with lectures every day, dark nights, and a budget. Not quite your conventional ‘Partridge in a Pear Tree’, right? Do you relate to this kind of thing? Yep? Well, then you’re probably feeling the exact same way as a lot of other people right now - stressed out! Christmas has crept up on us all and brought with it an awful lot of emotions; from feeling worried about money, stressed about deadlines, or even grief of others - but it doesn’t always have to ruin your festivities. Here’s how to make sure you look after yourself this Christmas and ensure a relaxed, enjoyable time…

Don’t put too much on your plate

Although Christmas is most certainly a time for filling your dinner plate with as much food as possible, your mental plate is something that would rather not take the weight. Having social events, work, university deadlines, personal emotions, and even the pressures of gifting presents can all get a bit much. I’ve always found it really important to take a step back at this time of year and evaluate all the different things piling up on my plate - once I’ve recognised each individual thing, I’ll often organise things by priority. Sometimes it’s acceptable to decline the shift at work or ask to lower the Secret-Santa budget, you’re only human and, when Christmas comes around, you have no pressure to be a super-powered energy robot. Keep it simple this Christmas, I know I will.

Give yourself a break

Following on from that point, even if you do organise your plans efficiently, it doesn’t always mean that you’re left with an awful lot of time to just relax. Sure, the festive period is supposed to be about partying, socialising, or getting to see as many Christmas markets as possible, but it’s so important to give yourself a break. Whether you’re put into the work rota on every one of your days off Uni, or have deadlines staring you right in the face, just don’t forget that you are allowed some time to yourself. I sometimes find it just as effective to wake up an hour earlier to give myself a bit more time, or even opt for an earlier night to get some key ‘relaxation brownie points’.

Practice self-care

Just as getting an early night is one of the vital ingredients for the perfect self-care loaf, you might want to add a bit more into the mixing bowl at this time of year. I practice self-care on a weekly basis and it often includes a few different things; here are some ideas that you can take on for a bit of a self-care regime:

Try Meditation

No matter who you are, meditation can be fantastic and great for your health. There are tonnes of apps, books, and online resources out there that give you a perfect step by step walk through guide on meditating. I find this particularly useful if I’m feeling a bit tense, stressed or need to take my mind off my worries.

Write a Gratitude List

This one can be taken however you feel is best for you. You could write down one thing you’re grateful for each night before bed or 10 things every Sunday morning as soon as you wake up, whichever way works best for you, and ultimately encourages you to feel grateful, should work just fine.

Put down your device

We all know how bad social media, digital games, online shopping, and the likes can be, so it might just be the best thing for you to take an hour away from your smart phone, games console, or computer once a day and try focus on something completely different. I’m going to be taking on this challenge this December and hopefully using the spare time to try new things - you should do it too!

Have a Pamper

Whoever you are, there’s no denying that we all love a pamper now and then. I particularly enjoy bubble baths and face masks but, if a pamper for you means a delicious meal and a good film or your favourite fluffy socks and a cup of tea then let it be. At the busiest time of the year, you definitely deserve to pamper.

Talk to someone

If you do find yourself struggling to cope with emotions this Christmas, no matter what they are, you must not feel alone. This is undoubtedly the most hectic time of year and it is completely normal to feel upset here and there. Nevertheless, you don’t have to face the challenges on your own. Here at Northumbria, there are multiple services there for you if you find you need to have a chat with someone.

Here are a few ways for you to speak to someone at Northumbria University:

Need help NOW?

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/study-at-northumbria/support-for-students/counselling-and-mental-health-support/need-help-now/

Self-Care and multiple support resources

https://www.northumbria.ac.uk/study-at-northumbria/support-for-students/counselling-and-mental-health-support/self-help/

Support provided by Northumbria Student Union

https://www.mynsu.co.uk/heretohelp/

If you’re looking for someone to talk to outside of University, you can check out charities such as Mind which provides helplines, listening services, or even advice on what it is you need.

You may also find it helpful to chat with your own friends. If something is bothering you, say you’re worried about gifting gifts, have an honest chat to let them know that you are struggling and think it would be necessary to skip gifts this year. Similarly, if you’re not sleeping very well from stress, ask a friend or your tutor for some advice. On the other hand, you might also want to make sure that you’re there for your friends too. Check in with them once in a while just to check that they’re okay and let them know that you’re there for them.

If there’s one thing to take from this post, it should be that it’s natural to feel a bit stuck at this time of year but doesn’t mean you have to face it alone.

Plan social events, book your train home, take a few shifts at work, and get up an extra hour earlier to write another few-hundred words on your essays. There are ways of making Christmas relaxed and enjoyable so grab it by the horns and take control - it’s time to look after number ONE!

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