Managing holiday stress: Tips from a fellow student

3 December 2020

The winter break can demand a lot of time, effort and pressure as you try to keep up with all that is going on. UCL student Abi shares her tips and tricks on how you can minimise stress and enjoy the time off.

girl standing alone

The winter break and festivities can often get a little too much. Here are six simple strategies, from a fellow student, to help you minimise the stress over the holidays and make the most of your time off university.

1. Plan your time

The first and most important tip is to plan your time before the holidays even begin. Know when your university deadlines are, write a list of everything you need to do (both academic and social) and come up with a clear plan of what you’re going to do and when. The simple act of writing out a plan will focus you and decrease stress - everything will suddenly seem more manageable and under control.

2. Make the most of your free time

Use the hours you would normally spend in class to catch up with those things you’ve been meaning to do for months or to engage in a hobby you don’t normally have time for, like reading a novel. If you have deadlines after the holidays, this extra time could make a real difference in terms of completing tasks well.

3. Keep balance

Balance is always essential, but especially during the holidays. University holidays are designed to give you a break and it would be a waste to not take advantage of this. Split your time between study and relaxation and make sure the two are completely separate.

4. Spend time with friends and family

The holidays are a great opportunity to catch up with important people in your life and to be around those who care about you.

However, things are a little different this year, and it is important that you keep yourself, your loved ones, and your community safe. If you are travelling to stay elsewhere, you must follow the advice and guidance set out here

Try and make time to see friends and family in a safe and careful way. Remember, you can meet up outside to go for a walk and catch up, even if you can't spend time in the way you might usually. You could also arrange video or voice calls to stay in contact with your loved ones, or do an online activity together, like watching a film or cooking at the same time. 

5. Eat, sleep, relax

Try to eat well, get lots of sleep, and let yourself relax. Term-time stress at university can really take its toll on your body and mental health, so use the holidays to recover from this period of intensity. If it feels like you’re wasting potential study time by resting, remember that you’re actually preparing your body and mind for next term. Recovery now will mean you’re better equipped for a return to the second term.

6. Take a breather

Finally, don’t aim for perfection in the holidays. It’s okay to take a breather and to not get everything done. The winter break brings its own set of demands and pressures, which can sometimes feel overwhelming when added to your own academic worries. Let yourself off if things don’t go perfectly, you have plenty of time to catch up.

If stress is really getting you down, remember that UCL has plenty of support services available to you over the holidays.

Abi Smith, BA student in European Social and Political Studies

Updated by Student Support and Wellbeing, December 2020