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We don’t provide mental health advice, counselling, or treatment. If you or someone you know is in crisis, contact your local community crisis team. You can also reach out to the Indigenous Hope for Wellness Help Line 1-855-242-3310, the Black Youth Helpline 1-833-294-8650, or Kids Help Phone 1-800-668-6868.

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Self-care over the winter break: ideas for students

Ahh, the winter break. Holiday movies might make it out to be a time for the main characters to fall in love, return home, or realize the importance of family.

But, life isn’t a movie.

While most movies paint a picture of pure holiday happiness and bliss, we know that this isn’t the reality for most people. In fact, the winter break can be really challenging for some people. The change in routine may cause negative emotions – not to mention the pressure due to unrealistic expectations from movies and social media (social media isn’t real life either) during this time of year. For these reasons, we have developed a list of tips to help you take care of your mental well-being this winter break.

Set reasonable expectations

Setting the expectation that your winter break will be as “perfect” as those that you see in movies or on social media will likely lead to disappointment. Instead, try being honest and open about your expectations for this time of year. Consider making a list of the things that you can control and the things that you can’t to help you manage your expectations.

Create and respect your boundaries

Just because you have a bit more time doesn’t mean that every minute of it must be spent doing something. You don’t need to be, accomplishing things or trying to get ahead for the return to school. Find the balance that feels best for you and stick to it. It’s okay to say “no” to plans or to schedule some downtime for yourself during the break.

Keep doing the things that bring you joy

Maybe you’re used to walking to school each morning and home each afternoon. Without school, you might find yourself missing these moments of movement. Keep doing them. Sure, your walk might not have to be first thing in the morning, instead, you might do it later in the afternoon. If you find yourself missing or craving some part of your routine, try to bring some elements of your routine back into your winter break. Things like a consistent bedtime routine, reading, or time with friends are all important to your well-being.

Practise gratitude

Practising gratitude can help you feel happier and healthier. Practising gratitude doesn’t mean we forget about what’s challenging. Noticing even the smallest of things – like a moment with friends, a sunny day, or your favourite song – can help when things are tough. If you need a little boost of joy, try thinking about some of the good things in your life and the good things that you bring to the life of others. If you need some ideas to get you started in practicing gratitude, check out our gratitude exercises.

Wondering about gratitude journaling? Check our journaling 101 post for some tips.

Reach out for help

Being away from school can be difficult as it might be taking you away from your usual support system. Even during the holidays, you are not alone. Try talking to an adult that you trust, a friend, or a trained counsellor. Kids Help Phone is open 24/7/365. For more resources, check out the Support Your Mental Health page or try Kids Help Phone’s Resources Around Me tool.