Tips for Handling the Holidays from King’s Student Support Team

Tips for Handling the Holidays from King’s Student Support Team

There’s no doubt about it—while the holidays can be festive and fun, for many people they can also bring up difficult emotions and challenges.

We asked Equity Officer Rhema Ferguson, Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer Jordan Roberts, and Student Support Advisor Isa Wright to share some tips for staying well and navigating stressful situations during the holiday season.

Equity Officer, Rhema Ferguson

Tip: Have compassion for yourself

Remember to have compassion for yourself and to practice self-care. The holidays can be both wonderful and hard at times. This could look like going for a walk, initiating a hard conversation or spending time with loved ones. Do what you need in the moments that you need it. If you would like some time to think about and plan for resources that would be helpful for you over the holiday season feel free to reach out to me through e-mail before campus is closed on December 24. Happy Holidays from your Equity Officer.

Sexualized Violence Prevention and Response Officer, Jordan Roberts

Tip: Write Scripts

For some, an anxiety of going home relates to possible discussion topics and how to manage them when they come up. It could be related to gender or sexual orientation, questions you are asked about your personal life or academic pursuits, discussion of diet, weight, and bodies (which runs even more rampant around the holidays), talking about mental health, or talk of current social issues and news stories in ways that are uncomfortable or upsetting.

Having some pre-planned scripts can help you decrease anxiety in the moment (because you won’t be fumbling to improv a response) and answer in a way that you can feel confident about. They also allow you to clearly set boundaries and navigate away from discussions you don’t want to be part of.

A first step is to make a distinction about where this comment is on the spectrum of uncomfortable (i.e. annoying, frustrating, you would prefer it if it didn’t come up) to upsetting (disrespectful to you, dismissing a lived experience, creating an unsafe environment). For things closer to the former your script can guide you towards respectful dialogue, some boundaries, and ways to share a little and move on to another, easier topic. For the latter, scripts can support you defining clear and firm boundaries, stating what is unacceptable, and creating a safety plan in case you need to leave.

For some examples of what scripts can look like here are some resources:

Write out or collect in a notes app points that feel important to you to have at the forefront of your mind and look it over every once in a while (like when you are waiting in a line) to feel grounded in the knowledge that you are prepared.

Student Support Advisor, Isa Wright

Tip: Create a self-care routine

It can be difficult to transition from the season of school and finals to one where you have less structure and more free time. Something I find helpful is creating a short, 15-minute self-care routine that I do each day—or, most days.

When we think of routines, sometimes they sound difficult and arduous—my goal over the holidays or breaks is always to create a routine that is enjoyable, but sets me up to recharge mindfully. I choose three short tasks for my routine: something for my physical well-being, a self-care task that will set me up for success the next day, and a self-care task that will help my wellbeing in the moment. I try to choose tasks that are focused on self-care, rather than self-soothing—in other words, tasks that might take a bit more effort than a bubble bath or scrolling TikTok, but can keep us on track to feel well in various areas of our life. (For an amazing, illustrated guide to self-care and self-soothing, check out this comic guide to the various forms of care).

I like to do my routine in the evening, so that I can re-set from my day and prepare to have a good sleep. My routine this holiday break will be: a five-minute walk around the block (physical well-being), set up my coffee maker for the morning (self-care for tomorrow!), and a quick, point-form journal entry on how the day went—including how my relationships with friends and family felt that day (self-care for today).

The goal of a routine like this is to provide a short burst of structure to keep you grounded, and help you prioritize some of the self-care pieces that can be difficult—but that are crucial to our wellbeing. Once you’ve done your routine, you can move back to holiday snacking, self-soothing, naps, or anything else that will get you through your days.

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