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#CareAtChristmas: Laura's top tips for wellbeing over Christmas

Stylised heron wearing a Santa hat

As part of our #CareAtChristmas campaign, we asked ARU Student Ambassador Laura about her tips for self-care and wellbeing over winter.

Whilst the Christmas period can be a relief for some, offering a well-earned break from the pressures of essays and exams, it can also be a difficult time.

With colder days, darker nights and the cost of living rising, Christmas can be overwhelming for some people and can feel like we’re not really getting a break at all! If this sounds like you, it’s especially important to take care of yourself during this time of year, so I’ve put together my top three tips for maintaining wellbeing over Christmas.

1. Find time to slow down where you can

It might offer a break from university work, but the Christmas period can be busy in its own way! Many of us will be working, lots of us will have housework to do and perhaps family to look after - not to mention all the preparation that goes into Christmas itself, if it’s something you celebrate.

It can easily get hectic, so my first tip is just to find small moments in time to take a step back, slow down and breathe. Whether this means spending some time outdoors, having a warm bath or curling up with a book - whatever slowing down means to you, it’s important to take the opportunities to escape for a bit, even if that’s just for a few minutes at a time.

2. Stay connected with others but don’t be afraid to set boundaries

Everyone has their own comfort levels when it comes to socialising, but the Christmas period can easily get quite lonely or quite overwhelming, so it’s important to find the in between that you’re comfortable with.

Whether it’s meeting up with some friends, staying with family members or simply reaching out to others every now and then over the phone, it’s important to stay connected with loved ones in whatever way works best for you.

And if anything feels like it’s too much, remember that it’s okay to say that and take a step back from whatever isn’t feeling quite right.

3. Look for little reasons to smile

For many different reasons, Christmas can be difficult for lots of us and it might be especially hard to go through for people with negative experiences surrounding the holiday. If this is the case, remember that it’s perfectly okay if you don’t enjoy Christmas - everyone is different and everyone has their own experiences that are completely valid.

If you’re finding the holiday hard, though, something that can help is looking for little moments of joy where you can. They don’t have to be Christmas related at all, but noticing small things like the sounds in nature, the winter sun or anything that you might ordinarily overlook can have a cumulative impact on your wellbeing during this time.

It’s important to acknowledge that the Christmas period is difficult for many people, for many different reasons. Never assume what someone is going through and remember to reach out to others who might be finding things tough too, because sometimes a simple message letting someone know you care can bring a much-needed smile to their face.

These tips will hopefully help you find a little comfort or happiness during this time, even if it will still be challenging for you. Remember to take care of yourself in the way that works best for you and be patient with yourself.

Laura studies English Language at ARU in Cambridge and you can read her blogs here.

Published as part of ARU's #CareAtChristmas campaign 2022.