Weather the winter break and avoid holiday stress - Metro US

Weather the winter break and avoid holiday stress

With grades rolling in, money rolling out and burglars preparing for the annual Christmas break-in, it can be hard for students to maintain a festive cheer over the holidays. Add to that the potential stress of squeezing back into your role as a child when you go home for Christmas and Scrooge starts to seem like a misunderstood man.

Metro has some tips for weathering the winter break.

Blake Prendergast, a student at the University of King’s College in Halifax, had no choice but to return home to Oakville, Ont., in his first year. “They close down residences,” he explains.

He enjoys catching up with his family, but actually getting there can be an expensive and unpleasant experience. That’s nothing compared to returning home and finding an anti-Santa has robbed you.

“Over the Christmas break, there’s a lot of break-ins, because nearly every house in the ‘student ghetto’ is empty,” he says.

He’s been spared so far, but takes vital things like his laptop and passport with him to be safe. Lock your doors and windows and let your landlord know you’ll be away, he says.

Heather Rowland, a counsellor at the University of Lethbridge in Alberta, urges students to take a deep breath.

“Right now, there’s a lot of pressure, especially for first-year students,” she says. “It really starts to play on people’s minds because usually you do your finals right before Christmas and then during holidays, you get your marks back.”

If students don’t make the grade, that can take the merriness out of Christmas.

“Slow things down a bit and put things back into perspective, especially around grades,” she says, “especially if it’s first year, first semester. It’s OK if you don’t get an A, it’s OK if you don’t do really, really well. It’s actually quite normal.”

Discovering friendships with those left behind have changed and parents expecting their child to be exactly as they were can pile on the stress. “It’s OK: It’s a transition. Some things might be different, other things might be the same and wonderful. Just be patient with the process,” Rowland advises. “Is it OK if you kind of follow (your parents’) rules, or is it worth it for you to have a conversation about it?”

Thinking about these things beforehand, and even having a pre-emptive chat with your family, can avoid you telling anyone but the turkey to get stuffed.

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