It’s the most wonderful time of the year… But if you’re finding the festive season stressful this year, you’re not alone.
Whether you’ve got mocks or exams coming up, or you’re feeling anxious about the ongoing pandemic, there are things you can do to bring a little calm back to your Christmas.
As another year draws to a close, it’s time to reflect and take care of yourself – after all, you deserve it! So, our team of experts has shared five simple ways you can balance celebration with study and have a merry, stress-free Christmas.
Take a break
Christmas is undoubtedly a period of rest. But with so much going on, and revision to complete before the term ahead, it can feel impossible to achieve.
It might seem counterproductive, but taking a break will actually help you revise better in the long run. So, how do you take time off and relax while making sure you get through all your schoolwork too?
The secret is to find a balance by breaking your time down into small slices of work and rest. Schedule time for study – when it’s quiet, or your family is watching that terrible film they watch every year – and then take the rest of the time to really relax. Dive into another world with a gripping book or listen to a podcast, watch your favourite movie or plan fun activities with your friends and family.
It’s no secret that exercise is fantastic for our mental wellbeing. And, while it may be tempting to stay sat in front of the TV watching Christmas reruns from morning till night, it’s important to get moving, too.
If you can, getting outside for a walk, run or cycle is a doubly great way of relieving stress. A change of scenery and time spent in nature will help to distract your mind from focusing on work or worries. If it’s a little cold, raining or (who knows) even snowing… then don’t worry! You can still reap the same benefits from moving around indoors. Challenge your family to a Christmas dance off, practice some yoga or bring out a game of Twister!
Another great tool for combating stress is mindfulness. While it might seem inaccessible, it’s really very simple. And, it can be extremely effective in reducing stress and anxiety and promoting calm. You don’t have to be an expert in meditation to get started, it can be as simple as doing one of the following:
- Find somewhere quiet to sit or lie down and focus on your breathing. You might concentrate on the breath entering and leaving your nose, or the rise and fall of your chest. Each time a thought pops into your head (and they will!) gently guide your attention back to the breath.
- Take a mindfulness walk. As you’re walking along, focus your attention on what you can see, hear, smell and feel. You might notice the colour of the leaves, the sound of nearby traffic or the feel of the ground underneath your feet.
- Pick your favourite music, plug in your headphones and listen. Make sure there are as few distractions around you as possible and don’t try to do anything else while listening. Focus solely on the music and try to pick out specific elements – you might focus on the drumbeat, the sound of the singer’s voice or the instrumental melody, for example.
Remember, there’s no ‘right’ way to practise mindfulness. So, don’t get frustrated if you’re finding it difficult or get distracted easily. The most important thing is to keep going, and repeat it as often as you can.
Talk to your friends and family
You know what they say: a problem shared is a problem halved. When you’re feeling stressed out or anxious, sharing your concerns with someone you trust can really help. They might not be able to solve the problem, but they can reassure you and help you to find the best way forward. Chances are, your friends might be feeling exactly the same!
If you’re worried about completing work over the holidays, try to talk to a teacher before the end of term. They might be able to suggest which work you should prioritise or help you to put together a schedule to make the work seem more attainable.
If you want to speak to someone confidentially over the holiday period, you can call Samaritans for free in the UK on 116 123 or Childline on 0800 1111.
Take time to reflect on the past year
When we’re stressed, we often become fixated on all the things we need to do in the present, and what awaits us in the future. But it’s important not to forget all that you’ve achieved so far this year. You might be surprised when you look back at just how far you’ve come. And, it might build your confidence to remember that you’ve already made so much progress.
Take time to look back and ask yourself:
- Which piece of work are you most proud of?
- Which topic have you most enjoyed studying this year?
- What extra-curricular achievements have you made?
- What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned this year?
- What memories have you made with your friends?
Know that, just as you’ve tackled this year, you’ll be able to take on whatever’s coming next. Be proud of yourself for all you’ve achieved and be confident that, with the right attitude, you’ll achieve even more in the new year.
Christmas can be an extremely busy, exciting and stressful time. But by taking the time to do simple things for yourself, and look after your wellbeing, you’ll be able to rest and relax – ready to return in January recharged and ready to achieve your goals.
Got your own tips on dealing with stress? We’d love to hear them! Share them with us over on social media by sending us a DM or comment (@SaveMyExams).
If you’re celebrating, have a wonderful Christmas. And we hope everyone has a restful and peaceful winter break!