How to stay mentally healthy during winter break

Two students on beach

December 7, 2021

The holidays can be a time of heightened emotions, and not always the welcoming variety.

“While the holidays can be a joyful time for some students, it can also be a challenging time for those who are far from loved ones, grieving a loss, or don't find their cultural traditions and holidays celebrated or recognized,” said Jessica Lopez. She is a counselor with the Personal Growth and Counseling Center, a student service that supports mental and emotional wellbeing. 

“It can also be challenging for those who are financially restrained or struggling, and people who experience mental health issues such as major depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder or social anxiety,” she continued. 

But the PGCC has strategies to counter the holiday blues, including:

  1. Continuing with routines
  2. Focusing on basics by sleeping regularly, eating healthy and regularly, doing physical activity
  3. Connecting with supportive and encouraging communities including people with like interests, volunteering, spiritual or faith communities
  4. Talking to a professional if the blues persist or your previous ways of coping are not helping.

Over the winter break, residential students who may not be leaving campus to visit family or friends can take the opportunity to find and gather with each other for meals or outings or nature excursions.

“There are enough people around that they don't need to feel isolated,” said Leslie Williams, associate vice president for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. “There will still be RAs in the buildings and they will know who is here, so students might be able to connect that way. The MyRaft feed is also a way that folks can post a message and see who else is around.”

There are campus services that will be available over the winter break. 

If students or others are engaging in unhealthy ways of coping with winter and holidays, such as increased alcohol or substance use, self-harm or having thoughts of suicide, Lopez advises contacting a professional.

While the campus is closed, there are services available. Students can call the PGCC at 831-582-3969 to talk to a counselor. They can log in to online wellness platform You@CSUMB with their CSUMB username and password and find tools to improve mental, physical and relationship health.

But if students are experiencing a crisis or in need of urgent care, she says they should call 911 or go to their local emergency room.

Here are some more resources for crisis support:

  1. University Police Department: 831-655-0268
  2. Suicide Prevention: 1-877-ONE-LIFE (1-877-663-5433)
  3. YWCA Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 831-372-6300
  4. Monterey County Rape Crisis Center:831-375-4357

The Otter Raft, by which we all keep each other afloat, is always near.