Stress... Holidays... PANDEMIC
Rebecca Israel, Peer Educator
December 17th, 2020
For many in 2020, the winter holiday comes with the unwanted company of stress. While amidst a global pandemic, our vacation and holidays will come with an unfamiliar air of uncertainty. Since we are all experiencing these challenges for the first time, the RISE office wants to provide you with a surviving the holidays *during a pandemic* toolkit.
The most important activity you can make time for this holiday season is to take care of yourself and acknowledge the past year in its entirety: the good, the bad, and the ugly. You have completed two semesters of college in the past year, survived a national toilet paper shortage, navigated an intense election, and avoided deadly murder hornets. Moreover, you have made it through any number of challenges and accomplishments unique to you. Take a moment for yourself to acknowledge how amazing you are and how much strength it took to just survive. Step into the holiday season knowing that there are no irrational feelings. If you're experiencing negative emotions, check the tools below to see how you can "prioritize the 'me' in merry" (1):
Understand and Acknowledge Negative Emotions
To the right is the Wheel of Emotions. It is a super awesome chart that can help us identify and name the exact type of emotion we might be feeling. Sometimes we may feel negative emotions, but you need to remember: you feel the way you do for a reason. Noticing your negative emotions and respecting that your body needs something is an excellent step toward stress reduction. Whatever feeling you might feel, the next step is to remind yourself that all of your feelings are VALID. Sadness and anger exist for a reason. Let yourself feel and heal from these emotions.
Schedule Time for Self-Care
YOU are the present this holiday season. Make sure you give yourself the time to do what brings you joy. Allow yourself the time away from others if/when you need it. Additionally, schedule the time to connect with loved ones near and far to increase feelings of connectedness when many are apart.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Try to check-in with yourself several times a day. Takes some moments to breathe deeply and make sure you are engaging in behaviors that make you feel your best self. Meditation is a fantastic resource; please check out our blog on meditation (2) or these resources (3) from Dartmouth to access the necessary information and guided exercises.
Relaxation and Sleep
Just as electronics need some time to rest and recharge, you do too. Give yourself the treat of time to rest and digest. A human's parasympathetic nervous system needs this time to realign and allow the body to interpret the input information from the day. Without this time, your stress hormones are not given the signal to stop producing, and over time, your stress levels will increase noticeably.
How Changes in Routine Make an Impact!
In a year that it seems the world is changing day-to-day, it may feel an insurmountable challenge to give yourself structure, but even a small routine can help reduce stress levels. Routines are important because they are hard wired in human nature. We are designed to have a routine and have a purpose, so a sudden lack of structure can severely impact mental health (4). Some routines you could try are:
- Wake up at the same time every day and a bonus if you allow yourself 2-5 minutes to breathe or walk by yourself.
- Note: The morning is the best time to provide yourself with a routine because it is the most simple to keep consistent, and it offers a familiar situation to wake yourself and your nervous system.
- Take a walk at the same time every day, as short or as long as you would like.
- Write a journal entry with your favorite pen at the same time daily.
- Enjoy a foody treat at the same time every day.
The Bottom Line
Give yourself the ability to rest and heal over this vacation because you deserve it! Please know that the RISE Office and Texas Tech University wants you to have a happy, healthy holiday season. Below are some resources that can be used anytime, even during the university break. Have a great holiday season!
Crisis Helpline: (806) 742-5555 (Available 24/7/365)
Student Health Center: (806) 743-2848
Links to references:
Guided Audio Recordings | Student Wellness Center (dartmouth.edu)
The Importance of Keeping a Routine During Stressful Times (verywellmind.com)