What if it isn’t the most wonderful time of the year?

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Despite the endless images of everyone enjoying the festive period in their matching pyjamas on social media, that isn’t the case for everyone and it’s ok if you aren’t feeling it.

Whilst it can be a great occasion for joy and spending time with loved ones, it can also be stressful, emotional and lonely. The key is to be honest about your feelings and focus on things which help. Here are some of our top tips on how to look after your wellbeing during the festive period.

Talk about your feelings

It can seem difficult to admit that you’re not feeling great, when you feel like everybody else is enjoying themselves, but talking about your feelings can be really therapeutic and help you to manage them.

And chances are, you’re not the only one – by talking to others you might find out that friends and family members are experiencing similar feelings, so try and make some time to speak to someone you trust.

If you can’t talk to those around you, or your usual support isn’t available, remember you can talk to Samaritans 24/7, 365 days a year and there’s a number of wellbeing support options available to you through the University.

Take time out for you

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, put yourself first and take some time out to look after yourself. It can be hard to say no, but as the saying goes, it’s hard to pour from an empty cup, so do something you enjoy and fill it back up!

Whatever your chosen act of self-care might be, whether it’s having a bath, doing some crafts or watching your favourite film, make time to do it, especially if you’re feeling stressed by all the festivities. And if you really need some time to breathe and unwind check out Bemindful, the Headspace app, or the Calm app for tips on mindfulness.

Find your festive routine

Having a break from uni often throws normal routines out the window, which can make you feel stressed and out of control. An easy fix is to try and maintain some consistency during the break. For example, if you normally go on a walk at lunch or head to the gym in the morning, keep doing it. It might be worth making a plan for each day or week of your break so you can schedule some time for yourself as well as seeing people.

Another thing which can suffer without the structure of normal life, is sleep! Especially with this being a busy time of year for social gatherings which often go on late into the evening. But sleep hygiene is so important to our wellbeing, so make sure you allow yourself to lie in and get the occasional early night.

Stay off social media

Endlessly scrolling through other people’s “perfect Christmas” can be detrimental to our mental health. It’s important to remember that what you’re seeing is just a snap shot of what’s going on, not the whole story. As we all know, our social media accounts are often carefully curated to show the very best version of ourselves so try not to compare yourself to others and take a break if you need it.

Remember there are always people there to help you

If you are struggling and you feel like you can’t cope, then it is important to speak to somebody. Visit our wellbeing support options for more information on the support available to you through the University.

The Spiking Epidemic

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by BA(Hons) English Literature with Writing student.

I was eight when I first experienced a form of sexual assault.

Eight.

I was fourteen when I experienced my next form of assault. I was walking back home with a group of similarly aged friends when a man stopped us on the street in broad daylight and took out his penis in front of us.

Fourteen.

Since then I have experienced countless amounts of catcalls, gross comments and awkward touches. Most of them have been in broad daylight with groups of people around. None of them would say anything, even fewer would blink an eye.

Approximately one in five young women and girls will be sexually assaulted in their lifetime, while one in twenty men will be abused once in their life. Yet our judicial system, one who claims to stand and support survivors of assault, is failing us. Only one in one hundred cases in 2021 were recorded by police, with most cases tucked away to be forgotten about (Rapecrisis.org).

This topic, one so taboo, is also a growing epidemic. British drinking and clubbing culture has led to an increase in spiking cases, so how can we stop this from escalating further?  

Some ways that you can prevent spiking in the case of you or your friends include:

  1. Always buy your own drink and watch it get poured
  2. Never leave your drink unattended or in the presence of strangers 
  3. Go to clubs with groups of friends or people that you trust
  4. Make sure to go to places in pairs, never leave to places alone or with people you don’t know
  5. Cover your drinks! 

Following these tips can help in preventing instances of spiking but, if you do believe you or a friend has been spiked, go to a trusted friend or family member that can take you to safety and call 999 to report it as soon as possible.

Rapecrisis.org also offer a support helpline, available Monday – Thursday: 13:00 – 17:00, 18:00 – 21:00 and Friday: 14:00 – 17:00. Call 0808 802 9999 or chat to them online.

Sources:

“Statistics about Sexual Violence and Abuse.” Rape Crisis England & Wales, rapecrisis.org.uk/get-informed/statistics-sexual-violence/.

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