The holiday season is upon us! While this can be a time of celebration with family and friends, this can also be a stressful time for college students and their families. A lot of money and time goes into these celebrations that not everyone has the means for. In addition, for vulnerable students like low-income, houseless, and queer students this can be a time of stress and uncertainty.
However, in times like these, we can depend on community and mutual aid because we have each other’s back. Below we have listed different resources college students and their families can hopefully benefit from.
Food Banks: Offers free food such as non-perishables, fruits, and vegetables.
Find a Food Bank
California Food Banks
Shelters: If you are seeking emergency shelter or a safe place to stay during the holiday/ winter season, here is CA’s shelter directory:
Emergency and Homeless Shelters – United Way 211
California Homeless Shelters – California
COVENANT HOUSE CALIFORNIA – Serving homeless youth in Los Angeles County and the San Francisco Bay area
Queer Resources: For some queer students, college is the perfect escape to find and embrace who they are without the fear of rejection. This can sometimes make going back home difficult. Below are LGBTQ resources like CSU centers, self-care guide, and county and statewide resources you can access.
LGBTQIA Centers | CSU
Self-Care During The Holiday Season – The Trevor Project
Holiday Gifts- Have a young child in your life? Here are some centers and organizations that host toy drives:
Get FREE Christmas Gifts & Food In California!
Free Christmas and holiday assistance Los Angeles County
The holidays can be a stressful time for some and may even bring up feelings of sadness. It is normal to have these feelings and let them be felt. Knowing a couple of coping skills can help you keep grounded when anxious feelings come up.
Disclaimer: These are just tips and not actual advice from a health professional. This is not to replace a form of therapy.
If you are spending time with your family members this holiday season, you may know the feeling of being uncomfortable with some of the things they say or because of the way they act. This is normal. We do not have perfect families. Do yourself a favor and set boundaries with them. Although this can be a bit difficult, it is very well worth it.
- Recognize your triggers and predict them. A “trigger” is considered a difficult situation or event. Always try to be one step ahead of your triggers by:
- Knowing what they are
- Recognizing the emotions that are brought up
- How you can best take care of yourself
- How you plan to respond to it
- Know that “No” is not enough
- Some were taught that saying “no” is not polite or safe. However, “no” should always be enough. Other alternatives are “I feel uncomfortable,” “no, this is inappropriate,” “no, I am leaving,” or “I don’t want to have that conversation.” These alternatives are a better approach to saying “no” and clearly state your needs.
- Be clear about your needs and communicate them
- Identify your needs and boundaries in advance with others. We all have different limits and we have every right to set them. Once you have identified your limits, communicate them clearly and kindly.
Once you have established your boundaries, you should begin to learn to cope with them. Keeping a list of coping skills can help you stay calm when certain triggers appear. Here is a list of a few coping skills that may help you:
- Deep breaths and count to 10 slowly:
- Take a few deep breaths, inhaling and exhaling slowly. When you are ready, count to 10 slowly. If you prefer, count to 20.
- Write down your thoughts
- Have a journal where you can write down what is making you feel anxious, angry or upset. Writing down these thoughts gets them out of your head and can make it less daunting.
- Practice mindfulness
- Mindfulness can help ground yourself in the reality of what’s around you. Anxiety attacks can cause a feeling of detachment or separation from reality, practicing mindfulness can combat these anxious feelings as they approach or actually happen. Focus on physical sensations, such as digging your feet into the ground or feeling objects near you. These sensations ground you firmly in reality and give you an object to focus on.
- Engage in light exercise
- Walking and moving your body can remove you from a stressful environment and moving can help regulate your breathing. Moving around, whether it be by running, taking a nice stroll, or lifting weights, releases endorphins that relax the body and improve mood. Regularly exercising can help reduce anxiety over time.
- The 5-4-3-2-1 method
- The 5-4-3-2-1 method is a grounding technique and a type of mindfulness. It helps to direct your focus away from the source of stress. To use this method, you should complete the following steps slowly and thoroughly:
- Look for 5 different objects: think about them for a short while, are the colors bright? Is the object round or a different shape?
- Listen for 4 different sounds: think about where they came from and how they are different from each other
- Touch 3 different objects: consider if the object is hot or cold, how does the texture feel and what are they are used for
- Identify 2 different smells: it can be any smell, your coffee/tea, your soap, or your laundry detergent
- Look for 1 thing you can taste: notice the taste in your mouth, is it sour or sweet? How does the texture feel?