The festive period can be a difficult time for many. Despite TV adverts and films depicting the perfect idea of family life and happy celebrations, for some of us it’s far from the reality. Whether due to a family bereavement or conflict, distance from home or cultural differences, we’ve put together a few ideas for alternative things to do over the holiday.
Meet others from your University
Many universities in the UK help international students that aren’t able to return home over the term break to connect with others like themselves and make plans, so check to see if they have a dedicated Facebook page set up. If your university doesn’t have a group or society to help, why not organise something yourself? The chances are that several people from your course, sports or society group or even your building will be staying put over the break. Ask around in social media groups to see if there are people looking to make plans, whether that’s to meet up for dinner or simply getting outside for a walk and some some fresh air.
Volunteer and help a good cause
If you don’t celebrate Christmas for cultural or other reasons, have you considered volunteering somewhere to help make a difference to others? There are charities and local groups all over the UK dedicated to helping those who need it the most, whether as a result of homelessness, old age and isolation or poor physical or mental health, with opportunities to help out at shelters, spend time talking with people or even put skills such as driving to good use. Not only will you be supporting others in need, you might find that volunteering and speaking to other people helps to alleviate any feelings of loneliness you may have had around this time of year.
Catch up with yourself
Whether you had a lot of college or university deadlines to meet before the term break or you’ve felt overwhelmed from work, public holidays make a great time to look after yourself and reflect. The festive period is full of expectations for where and how we should be spending our time, but we often forget to take care of some of the basics relating to our wellbeing so, if you feel like you could do with a rest, then do just that. Whether that means catching up on life admin to help declutter your mind and feel more organised or spending a day watching films at home, me-time is important and shouldn’t be seen as a waste of time.
Join a parkrun!
Believe it or not, many areas across the UK will be holding a parkrun over the festive period, including on New Year’s Day. Whether you’ve been thinking about running for exercise in the new year, could do with a chance to clear your head or have a group of friends looking for something to do, park runs are free and open to anyone to take part, providing a safe space to enjoy yourself and feel motivated. Plus, as we covered in our recent blog, physical activity is a great way to help you manage ongoing mental health issues such as depression, stress or anxiety.
If you do find this time of year to be particularly difficult, you are not alone. Take some time to relax and do the things you enjoy simply for yourself but know that there are support services available to help you if you need it. If you need to talk to someone, the Samaritans are available around the clock to listen, even on Christmas Day, and online communities such as Mind’s Elefriends can provide support from people in your shoes.