The holiday season has arrived! Everywhere we turn, we are reminded of this; whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, some combination of all holidays or a different one altogether, it’s a busy time of year. The streets are filled with holiday lights, the stores are playing holiday music; it is truly inescapable. The holidays are generally a joyous time, and at the same time the season is exceptionally busy and can be emotionally fraught for many of us.
It is important to be mindful of how the holiday season affects you in order to maintain a realistic study plan and manage your anxiety. With this in mind, below are some questions you can consider to plan accordingly and keep anxiety at bay.
How do the holidays affect me?
The holidays affect people quite differently and it’s important to consider how they affect you. Some people experience a continual burst of energy and are ready to conquer the world. For others, the holidays are a challenging time and defined more by difficult emotions such as sadness, anxiety, or loneliness. Take some time to consider how you feel during the holidays and use that knowledge to consider how much you can realistically study and how this will affect your exam date.
If you find the holidays to be distracting, it may be better to take a break and regroup in the New Year. That is completely okay! In fact, we would encourage it! There is no right or wrong, what works for others may not work for you. This is a personal decision for you to make. Whether your holidays are joyous or stressful, remember to take extra care of yourself. Be gentle and kind to yourself during this time.
What is my schedule over the next few weeks?
Even if you are the type to experience a “holiday high,” it still may not be an ideal time for you to study or to sit for your exam. If you have familial, work, or other responsibilities, it may be too much for you to also study for the exam. Take a few minutes and write down all of the responsibilities you have over the next few weeks. Will you be traveling? Will you be hosting parties or attending some? Do you have children who will be out of school? How much energy will I have to devote to studying?
Again, it’s okay to put your studies on hold. It’s better to take a break so you can fully embrace the holidays without being half in/half out and resentful of study time that takes away from all of the other activities. Figuring this out and planning accordingly will help minimize the potential for anxiety.
What is work like during the holidays?
As noted above, the holidays affect people differently and it’s not uncommon to see clients’ needs increase during this time. Many crisis centers see an increase in volume of calls, clients’ symptoms can intensify, thus increasing the emotional stress of your job or demanding more of your time. If you are new to your worksite, ask colleagues what you can expect during this time of year. If you’ve been in your position for sometime and your work environment is known, consider what last year at this time was like. And, keep in mind that even if last year was calm at work, there is still a possibility work can intensify this year.
As you move through this holiday season, take each of the above factors into consideration as you develop or alter your study plans. Set realistic goals for yourself and try not to overextend yourself. While it’s not always possible to be completely in control during the holidays, you do have control over how much or how little you choose to study. If you need to take a break from your studies over the next few weeks, it will be okay. You will be able to pick up again in the New Year with greater efficiency and less anxiety.
Everyone at TDC wishes you the happiest of holidays!