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Taking Care of Ourselves & Each Other

Health & Well-Being

In Focus: Seasonal Serenity: Navigating the Holiday Season With Joy

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The holiday season, often a time of joy and celebration, can also bring its unique set of challenges. Amidst the sparkle and cheer, many of us grapple with stress, loneliness, and the pressure of expectations. Let's explore ways to navigate these complexities with mindfulness and grace.

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How to Navigate the Holidays

Manage Holiday Stress

The end-of-year festivities often come with a long to-do list. From gift shopping to social commitments, the pace can be overwhelming. The key to managing this stress lies in mindful practices and prioritizing your mental health. Start by setting realistic goals for yourself and avoid overcommitting. Embrace the power of saying “no” when necessary, always following your heart. Incorporate daily mindfulness exercises, like journaling or meditation, to stay centered amidst the chaos. Remember, to stay present, take time for yourself, and do what brings you joy.

Maintain Your Mental Well-Being

The holidays can impact our mental health in subtle yet profound ways. It's essential to maintain routines that support your well-being. Regular exercise, like a brisk walk in the crisp winter air, can uplift your mood. Balance festive indulgences with nutritious diet choices to keep your energy levels steady. Last but not least, while enjoying increased time with loved ones, don't underestimate the power of a good night's sleep.

Cope with Loneliness

For many, the holidays can amplify feelings of loneliness, particularly for students away from family. It's important to reach out and connect to the world around you, whether it's through a video call with loved ones or participating in local events to enhance your sense of community. Consider volunteering; it's a wonderful way to feel part of something bigger and make meaningful connections. Remember it is normal and natural to feel vulnerable. Holding compassion for yourself as if you were your own best friend will allow you to flourish in times of difficulty. If you're feeling isolated, don't hesitate to seek support from campus counseling services or online resources.

As we wrap up another year, let's approach the holiday season with intention and mindfulness. By managing stress, maintaining our mental well-being, and addressing feelings of loneliness, we can experience a more joyful and fulfilling holiday season. Allow this December to be a time of reflection, connection, and celebration all done mindfully.

Written by: Jaden Abas, Class of 2025

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Stanford Resources

  • Residential Staff (Undergraduate Student Support | Graduate Student Support): These upper-division students and graduate students are available whenever you have a problem and can provide valuable insights from their own Stanford experiences. If you need support during winter break, contact the following:
  • The Bridge Peer Counseling Center: The Bridge is staffed by trained undergraduate and graduate students and offers FREE anonymous, 24/7 peer counseling. Peers are available to listen, explore feelings, offer advice, or just talk. Call 650.723.3392. (The Bridge will be closed during the break).
  • Counseling and Psychological Services: Struggling to navigate the holidays? A CAPS therapist can support you. CAPS offers individual visits, skills workshops, process groups, psychiatry services, community referral resources, 24/7 support, and crisis intervention. For 24/7 support: Call 650.723.3785 and ask for the “on-call counselor.” 
  • TimelyCare: A virtual medical and mental health care service that is available to any enrolled student at no cost 24/7, 365 days/year. To access care, log in to or download the TimelyCare app. 
  • Office for Religious and Spiritual Life: This office seeks to guide, nurture, and enhance spiritual and religious life by fostering a space where all feel welcome, included, and represented. Spiritual counseling, including one-on-one support, is available. You can also explore upcoming events and religious services at Memorial Church by visiting their website.
  • Mental Health Resources at Stanford: Explore a list of professional staff, peers, and other campus resources that are ready to support you.

Stanford Reads

  • Making the Most of Your Holiday Time: Discover strategies and resources for managing your time and discovering what brings you joy during the holiday season. (Note: These tips were created during the pandemic but many of them still apply and may be helpful to you!)
  • Holiday Message, 2022: Matthew Rascoff, Vice Provost for Digital Education, encourages us to practice the “Rose, Thorn, and Bud” activity as the year comes to an end. Reflect on what good thing(s) happened to you (rose), what challenge(s) you faced (thorn), and what thing(s) you are looking forward to (bud).

Additional Resources