We are at a pivotal stage in the year, when deadlines are mounting, pressure is rising and, consequently, free time is non-existent. We kick ourselves for not starting essays six weeks in advance like we promised, despite the questions not even being released at that point. There is such a thing as too early (and too late, but we won’t talk about that). I say ‘we’ because it’s important to stress that you’re not alone, pretty much every student undergoes a certain level of panic as first term comes to a close. Take me for example. I’m a third-year and I feel as though my to-do list is longer than my 10,000-word dissertation. However, it is important to give back to ourselves this winter what we may have formerly forgotten, left out, or not acknowledged as a result of stress. Here are a few simple self-care tips for you, and me, to be mindful of this Christmas, and to spur us on into the New Year.
Chocolate. Love Actually. Hot chocolate. Elf. Chocolate elves. It’s Christmas, a time of year that can warm the coldest of hearts. Even Ebenezer Scrooge came around eventually. And if it doesn’t warm yours, then you’re not drinking enough hot chocolate. It’s important to indulge in the Christmas season and all its festivities, especially this year. Not even a pandemic can stop us from recreating Hugh Grant’s infamous crab dance all over the house, whilst simultaneously covered in various blankets and fluffy pyjamas that make us look like we’re also imitating one of the shepherd’s lambs from the Nativity. Although, maybe the pandemic should stop it, as that’s a sight for sore eyes. Christmas is meant to be enjoyed in excess; after all, it only comes around once every year. Some things to do may include decorating your flat with homemade decorations, making gingerbread houses with your flatmates, engaging in the longstanding debate as to whether A Nightmare Before Christmas is a Christmas movie at all, or simply making an effort to unwind every night with a good old, uncontroversial Christmas classic. Whatever you do, make sure to indulge in it!
Declutter your brain
Once first term is over, it’s always important to declutter your mind of the happenings and anxieties foregone and start anew. This is easier said than done, I’m well aware. However, there are plenty of different ways and techniques to ensure that your brain gets a well-deserved break, and your worry-circuit gets thoroughly suppressed (for now, at least). A very simple thing to do may include identifying what it is that is lingering in your brain, writing it down, and throwing it away. Barry Davenport and S.J. Scott’s Declutter Your Mind is a fun and interactive read if you’re wanting to explore new and mindful ways of getting your worries under wraps and your brain brand-spanking new.
Routine, routine, routine!
If online lectures have taught us university students anything this year, it’s that we need structure in order to get things done. Oh, and that my wi-fi can’t handle a Teams seminar consisting of more than two people. With the sun rising and setting early nowadays, it’s very easy to trade in those early-bird starts for lethargic lie-ins. Whilst this is acceptable, it’s also important to transfix some of your daily activities so you don’t completely fall, or should I say slump, down a rabbit hole of bed-bound antics. I know university is scientifically proven, by me, to make you age ten times faster, but anything more of a few grey hairs is just dramatic. So, get out of your wallowing sick bed! Put your snazzy ‘to-do’ list to good use over the holidays and pencil in a walk, a Facetime with friends, or even something as simple as drinking water. By doing so, you’re training your brain to stick to a regular routine. Also, remember that, due to the seemingly shorter days, you’re not going to be as productive as you could be, and that’s normal. That being said, afford yourself the occasional morning to wallow in bed and watch the new season of The Crown – that I will permit.
Christmas should not be spent alone
Ellie who? We are all guilty of it to some extent. You pack up your things. Board the train. Next thing you know, you’ve completely forgotten the people you’ve spent the past three months pestering and pouring your heart out to. Alas, I’m here to remind you: Christmas shouldn’t be spent alone and, with the uncertain and troubling situation this year, this should definitely be adhered to. Make an effort to stay in touch with your friends and family, whether that be through a socially distanced walk or a good old facetime with grandma. However, in correspondence with my last tip, maybe write off the whole day for a FaceTime with your grandma, as I can guarantee it will take her twenty-three hours to navigate the call!
Take up a new hobby
Winter is often associated with detracting things from our lives. We do less work, it gets dark a lot earlier, or we have less motivation in general. To truly keep yourself engaged over the holidays, it may be worth channelling your energy (although it may be minimal) into a new hobby. I can imagine your workloads won’t stop completely over Christmas, because apparently lecturers forget that we are human beings sometimes. Yet taking up something new will give you something to look forward to every now and then. I would not be surprised if I get thrown off the face of the Earth for admitting this but, as someone who has never watched Harry Potter all the way through, my new hobby will be sitting down to read the books over Christmas. For your information, I haven’t been living under a rock, I don’t even have a valid excuse. The fact I’m an English student makes it ten times worse. Nevertheless, you get my point.
The tip underpinning all of these points is to relax. Wind down on FaceTime, read a book, indulge and declutter. It is important to give yourself a well-earned rest as, even if you haven’t kept on top of your lectures this year, university life in itself can be daunting; especially for first-years who haven’t mastered the art of a quick in-and-out Aldi shop. Rest and rejuvenate, and that way you will be prepared to do it all over again next term!