For lots of students, the arrival of the winter holidays is a welcome opportunity to take a break from their studies, socialise with friends and enjoy the company of family.

However, not everyone looks forward to the festive season – it isn’t a time of celebration for everyone. Some of us are experiencing family problems, which can be exacerbated at this time of year. Others may be lonely, particularly if they are far from home.

We understand that this can be a challenging period for many and, so, that’s why we’re sharing some tips and advice on how to manage your wellbeing over the coming weeks.

Don’t be afraid of how you’re feeling

Society has conditioned us to think of these holidays as a time for joy and laughter but lots of people aren’t so fortunate. If you’re life doesn’t seem particularly joyous or hopeful, be assured that this isn’t unusual. Worries about money and academic performance are very common and Inspire’s Student Support Hub is home to lots of resources relating to these topics and others. You can also try and share your thoughts with someone you trust, whether that person is a friend or a counsellor. If you’re stressed, the Support Hub’s stress self-help toolkit is a great place to start feeling more at ease. In fact, you can have a look at all of our self-help toolkits, including resources relating to perfectionism, depression and anxiety.  

Connect with those around you

It’s best not to isolate yourself. Instead, getting involved with social activities – from parties with friends to clubs and society events – is a good way to connect with your peers and community. If, like a lot of students, you’re not going home to the holidays, check if the union has anything planned for individuals who are sticking around over Christmas and New Year. You can also help support others who may be isolated by checking in: a quick phone call or text message can make a real difference. If you want to learn more about dealing with loneliness, the Inspire Student Hub has some very useful guidance here.

Make time for yourself

If you’re able, why not plan activities to keep you busy over the festive period? Wrap up warm and get active in the outdoors. Go for a walk or explore the world around. If you don’t want to brave the cold weather, you can use your time off and make time for yourself. Even something as simple as catching up on a TV show you’ve been meaning to watch, or finally tackling that pile of unread novels, will go a long way to creating a sense of positive wellbeing. The Student Hub’s Take 5 Steps to Wellbeing database has lots of ideas to keep you entertained over the break. 

Manage family and relationship dynamics

The holidays can bring underlying family and relationships problems to the surface. The Student Hub features excellent content on relationships. You can also try following these easy steps to manage your emotions:

  • Be prepared for any expected tensions with family and loved ones
  • Remember that while you can’t control other people, you can control how you respond and react to them
  • Set clear boundaries, especially if certain topics of conversation cause arguments
  • Avoid drinking too much alcohol if arguments are a possibility. Nobody wants to say or do something they regret later 
  • Find a safe space if someone is antagonising you

Know when you need to take a moment and don’t hesitate to excuse yourself

It helps to talk

You can access a free counselling service through your university or college. We aim to set you up with an appointment within three days of your contacting us. 

Our counsellors have a wealth of experience and are fully qualified to work through a range of issues. They’ll help you draw on your strengths, qualities and skills to address your issues. You’ll be gently challenged to set goals to achieve solutions, in a supportive, caring and non-judgemental way.

You can access up to six counselling sessions, each usually lasting around 50 minutes and arranged to suit your schedule. If need to, please reach out.