Managing holiday stress as an online learner
AU counselling services offer advice on how to take care of yourself this holiday season
Although December is portrayed as being the “most wonderful time of the year,” for some, it can be the most stressful.
Learn to recognize your holiday triggers—such as studying, financial worries, personal demands—so you can combat these before becoming overwhelmed.
A little planning and positive thinking can allow you some peace and joy during the holidays.
Melissa Watkins, Mental Health Coordinator at Athabasca University, joined CTV Morning Live to chat about finding a balance during this busy and overwhelming time of year.
Tips to prevent holiday stress
Firstly, it’s important to remember that AU learners have access to CarePath by Bayshore, which provides the same service to AU students previously provided by Homewood Health. This wellness support program offers direct and private counselling support to students in need.
However, when it comes to holiday stress, the Counselling Services team emphasizes the importance of paying attention to the following:
- acknowledge your feelings
- it’s okay to reach out for help
- it’s okay to say no
- set realistic goals for yourself
- plan ahead
- keep up with healthy habits
- stop and take a breath
Make sure to take frequent breaks during the day, which will help you to avoid burnout, and stay focused on your studies.
Find ways to focus
It’s understandable to feel unmotivated during this time of year. You are not alone in this, as the circumstances over the past several years have been difficult for everyone. Do not judge yourself harshly, and just keep doing the best you can.
Managing your studies in a time of holiday stress is important in general, but managing your mental health is even more important!
AU Counselling Services suggests a few ways to focus on self-care and mindfulness.
1. Make sure to have a routine each day, including things like getting up, brushing your teeth, getting dressed, having breakfast, or studying. Also make sure to take frequent breaks during the day, which will help you to stay focused on your studies.
2. Techniques such as breathing purposefully, mentally grounding yourself, and making time to truly focus will help significantly.
3. Movement is important. Release stress and tension by:
- Moving from the spot you are in
- Taking the dog for a walk
- Doing some yoga or a free online exercise class
- Listening to an audiobook or some music
4. Sleep plays a vital role in our physical, mental, and emotional health.
5. Journal. Make sure to write your stressors down then allocate time afterward to revisit and address them.
6. Respond with kindness. This time of year can be difficult for many reasons. Be compassionate to yourself and others, slow down and enjoy the moment! Always remember to put your mental health first!
Reach out and seek support
If you feel lonely and isolated, make sure to reach out to your friends, family, and community. You do not have to go through this by yourself. Connect with people by text, phone, or video chat.
If your life feels chaotic and you’re having difficulty coping during this busy time of year, there is support available during the holidays.
It’s all about having the ability to participate freely in the things you enjoy, deal with life’s challenges effectively, and fulfil your potential as an individual—ideally while making a positive contribution to the world around you.
There are many resources available to support you, including self-help resources, the Student Wellness Support Program, and access to a free, confidential, and private consultation with a Carepath Digital Health counsellor.
More resources are available
Check out AU’s Wellness programs and resources, where you can register for the Carepath by Bayshore app, connect with peers on TalkCampus, and complete our free Learning to Learn Online course that will help you get more comfortable with the stresses of online learning.
For more information you can also contact Athabasca University’s Mental Health and Wellness team.