By Elizabeth Chunn
‘Tis the season to be jolly, but for 62% of Americans, this is not the case. The American Psychological Association said common holiday stressors include time and financial management, over-commercialization, pressures of gift-giving, family events, traveling and distance.
While Christmas is often welcomed by college students, holiday stressors pose a risk to student mental health if not handled properly. Officials say there are healthy tips and tricks students can adopt to ensure a meaningful and restful holiday season.
“It’s important to realize that in order to truly enjoy life, even with all of its stressors, we need to slow down, observe and appreciate what we have,” Jerrod Hinders, Amarillo College’s Counseling Center coordinator, said.
Jaclyn Ling, a former child welfare specialist, agreed down time is essential. “Set a specific routine to pray, read, journal or stretch,” Ling said. “Know when to take a break and recharge when in large friend or family groups.”
Students are also choosing to stay positive this holiday season by engaging in favorite activities. “If you love listening to ‘Jingle Bell Rock,’ put that on an hour loop and get busy,” Brandon Bellflower, a photography major said.
“I am choosing to socialize with friends who make me feel better,” Ally Lopez, a former psychology student at West Texas A&M University, said. “Setting boundaries, going for a walk, taking a bubble bath, spending time with family and friends, reading a book and meditating are things I like to do.”
Other coping techniques involve using physical forms of catharsis. Exercise is a great way to release stressors and tension, Lopez said.
“Something I’ve tried is writing stuff down and putting it in, like, a hate book or journal,” Bellflower said. “On days when I am fed up and can’t take it anymore, I read and then burn that page, which is actually quite freeing.”
If those coping mechanisms don’t quite cut it, officials say additional resources are available to students. “The Counseling Center offers free evaluation and counseling services to every student,” Hinders said. “It is also a great resource for referrals to other AC and community resources.”
Counseling services are provided with no judgement attached and with the mission of improving student mental health this holiday season.
“Holidays can inherently be stressful, but please remember the spirit of the holidays lies within understanding that you are not alone,” Hinders said. “We are a community, and the holidays are about practicing goodwill, charity and kindness toward others.”