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Mental wellness during the holiday season

How to beat the holiday blues graphic with a frowning snowman in rainy snow

The holiday season is here, yet while some may be experiencing a bit more pep in their step, others may be feeling down and blue. This time of year can bring out the gloom in anyone, so Governors State University’s (GovState) Counseling and Wellness Center (CWC) team and Dr. Uday Shinde, a Professor who specializes in spirituality in the workplace, have some tips to help ward away some of the mental winter chill.

A graphic of a person meditating on a yoga mat1. Ah finally, free time! It may be challenging to transition from the busyness of the school semester, with reduced time for yourself and your hobbies, to the holiday break where you may have an abundance of time on your hands.

This may bring up feelings of boredom, frustration, or restlessness. Try boosting your mood by planning activities you enjoy like exercising, reading a book, watching a movie, catching up with an old friend, practicing mindfulness or relaxation techniques.

“Meditate – daily. When I focus on and visualize the unending joy within, everything outside tends to take care of itself,” said Dr. Shinde.

A graphic of two people stretching and another person eating a salad2. Prioritize Self-care: This may include making time for yourself to enjoy hobbies that you’ve neglected lately, though eating well and exercise are important too!

“For me, it means fasting and huge amounts of greens/veggies, solid protein and a few carbs/desserts. I especially do this in the holidays because there are SOOO many goodies - I love dessert. Figure out what works for you. The joy is in the journey!”

"Walking/slogging in sunny nature is fun. On gloomy days, I hit the gym or pool. Now that's what I call a doporphin (dopamine + endorphin) hit - takes away the gloom!" said Dr. Shinde.

A graphic of a phone and social media icons with a red no circle over it3. Holidays look different for everybody: It can seem like everybody is celebrating the holidays, but that isn’t always the case. Whether it’s financial hardships, changes in relationships, losses, or work, not everyone has someone to celebrate with.

If you are unable to celebrate in traditional ways, it may be helpful to abstain from social media where everyone is trying to portray their picture-perfect moments and instead celebrate in a private and meaningful way to yourself.

A graphic of a person sitting at a computer thinking4. Reflect on the semester and plan for the next: It may be helpful to reflect on what went well and what was challenging to help recalibrate for next semester. Planning a little bit ahead may help reduce anxiety about the upcoming semester. Remember to incorporate self-care into your upcoming schedule to help mitigate burnout and fatigue.

“Breathe – every now and again – slowly, deeply, and deliberately. I can’t emphasize how much this helps,” said Dr. Shinde.

A graphic of a person curled up in sadness5. Reach out for support if you feel overwhelmed: When others are excited and reuniting with loved ones, some may find themselves experiencing feelings of depression, anxiety, loneliness, or sadness. 

If you’re going through this and wish to connect with someone who shares your experience, consider reaching out on Togetherall. It’s a 24/7 peer-support platform and it’s entirely free for GovState students. Plus, it’s anonymous. To learn how to join, visit the CWC’s Togetherall page here.

Students can call the 24/7 Mental Health Support line at 708.235.7334 to speak with a counselor at anytime. Non-GovState students can call 708.534.4545.