It's important to take care of yourself this holiday season
The holidays are often a paradoxically stressful time for Americans. Under so much pressure to give thanks and share joy with loved ones, it can be hard to fulfill the holidays’ expectations and to make the holiday season the relaxing, happy time it’s supposed to be.
The problems we experience year-round often feel amplified during the holiday season. If you weren’t particularly upset with the American political climate before the holiday season, you will be after listening to your relatives argue about politics for the entirety of Thanksgiving dinner. School’s always hard, but with finals approaching quickly, it can be a particularly difficult time to be a student. Financial woes are also common during the holidays, and the sudden influx of holiday advertisements carry with them an accompanying pressure both to give more and to get more.
The holidays are a tough time all-around, and it can be easy to stop taking care of yourself when your week includes working a twelve-hour shift on Black Friday, studying for three exams, and spending time with your family who hasn’t stopped arguing since Halloween.
It’s easy to feel like you aren’t worth prioritizing when there’s so much to worry about, but you are. Take a minute to evaluate how you’re feeling. You might be more stressed and run down than you realized. If your mental health is slipping during the holiday season (or any time of year for that matter), it’s okay to take a break and to get the help you need.
While I’m not suggesting you throw your academics down the drain or forego all of the commitments you may have made to spend time with friends and family, it is okay if you need to scale things back. Cancelling plans so you can catch up on sleep or re-scheduling a study session so you can see a therapist or counselor is perfectly fine.
It can be easy to get caught up in the fear of falling behind; the feeling that you’re one missed appointment or assignment away from total failure can be especially present during the holiday season. But taking some time to make sure that you’re doing okay is more important than making sure you’re constantly ahead of your to-do list.
This holiday season, make sure that you’re prioritizing your own health and happiness. The holidays are not a perfect time, and the pressure we feel to enjoy this time of the year certainly doesn’t help with that. In any case, if the holiday season is proving to be a trying time, make sure that you do what you can to take care of yourself.
Maybe you just need to take an extra nap and a rain check on Black Friday shopping with your friends, or maybe you need more than that. While it might be ‘normal’ or ‘common’ to feel run-down this time of year in the sense that your friends and family might also claim they feel the same way, that doesn’t make it okay.
It’s okay to reach out to your loved ones and to tell them how you’re feeling, to seek professional help if you or your loved ones suspect you might need it, and to take a break from it all. During a time when we’re constantly bombarded with messages about the importance of putting others first and giving, it’s especially important that we remember that it’s okay to make ourselves a priority.
Cassie Kuhn is a junior majoring in mathematics and political science. Her column runs biweekly.