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Christm… I mean deadlines are coming

‘So this is Christmas, And what have you done
Another year over

More deadlines to come’

Ahhh, it’s Christmas time (unless you’re one of those people who refuses to listen to a carol until December the 1st). The streets are soon going to be gleaming with non-lumière lights, you’ll have an excuse to batch-buy pigs in blankets from Tesco, and Terry’s chocolate oranges are back. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Or, as I like to put it as a student, the most overwhelming time of the year.

Not only do you need to figure out how to buy your family Christmas gifts on a student budget, when most of your savings have gone into paying for the coveted stash, but you need to get your act together and start submitting work (and let’s face it, you’re still pretty clueless about most of your module content).

You are not alone.

I love Christmas in the UK so much more than at home. It’s cold, drinking Bailey’s with coffee is socially acceptable and everything, and I mean EVERYTHING is Christmas themed (I’m looking at you, Greggs festive bake). What I don’t like so much is my lack of motivation to do anything other than drink hot chocolate and watch Love Actually. For those of us staring hopelessly into our screens, deadlines are creeping up, and hope is leaping out.

So, where does the balance lie?

It is ok to want to enjoy Christmas, we’re not robots. Having a little fun, buying a Christmas tree for the house, going for hot chocolate, this is all part of the student experience too. Here are my tips for finding a healthy work-joy balance:

Take a day-a-week off

There is no point attempting to enjoy the Christmas window shopping, if all that crosses your mind is that essay due handing in by 5pm. Take time for yourself, if you know that Saturday you can calmly stroll around town, go for brunch and grab a drink without thinking about work, you’ll be a lot more motivated to be productive the other 6 days.

Organise a budget-friendly Secret Santa

Your housemates will not refuse that. And if they do, well, you managed to find very boring mates. Set a spending-limit and organise a house Christmas dinner where everyone has to bring or make a dish. You can exchange presents and have a laugh while not splurging all your savings in the overly-expensive Christmas deals around town.

Grab a Greggs vegan sausage roll

I promise this is not an ad, I just love them (I can’t speak for the normal sausage roll because I’m veggie). It is an affordable, heart-warming, artery-blocking, Christmassy treat to have with your friends while roaming the Saturday market. If not, grab some fish and chips, or some market-square food on a Saturday morning. It is all incredibly tasty and cheap.

Go see the switching on of the lights

Enough said.

Buy some instant hot chocolate

This may sound pointless, but me and a friend do it and it’s the highlight of my days. Have a break every afternoon during work, in which you and your friend share a cup of tea, coffee or hot chocolate (add a gingerbread man for the extra Christmassy effect) and catch up on your day. Give it half an hour, try not to think about the article you were reading, just enjoy your friend’s company. Trust me, it makes a difference.

Do your readings to Christmas music (if you don’t mind listening to music when studying)

Alternatively, walk to lectures and seminars listening to Christmas music

Write down about something/ someone you are thankful for every evening

This will remind you of how lucky you are to be where you are, how strong you’ve grown and how far you’ve come as a person. You can even give out your little notes to people for Christmas or up your game and write Christmas cards.

Read something you actually want to read

Put a candle on, make yourself some tea, and rest your eyes from that luminous, damaging screen. Going to bed after reading a book will make you rest a lot better, you’ll feel fresh and ready to go the next day!

Treat yourself a Christmas gift

If you want to treat yourself to a Christmas gift, I consider cosy slippers a lovely and affordable choice

Your post-MC-walk feet will thank you. Alternatively, a scented candle can make your evenings 100 times better

Go for a walk

Morning walk, evening walk, whatever works for you. Brace the cold, layer-up and enjoy Durham’s nature at its best. Getting some fresh air and leaving your desk will clear your mind (and your lungs) and get you ready to take the day on.

These may seem like obvious, useless tips, but self-care is very important. Christmas is all about being jolly and feeling warm inside, but it’s actually the most common time for mental health struggle and stress to appear. Make sure you are taking care of yourself and your friends, and make sure too you are enjoying the best part of being a student: Greggs (sorry not sorry).

Keeping your spirits up, enjoying Christmas and keeping up with your uni work should not be parallel universes, we are not in a Marvel movie.

Have a great festive season!

Marina Mestres-Segarra

Heya! I’m Marina, a Combined Honours 4th year from Grey College. I’m from Barcelona but have a lot of experience living abroad and travelling to random places (which means I know plenty of useless facts). I breathe and bleed coffee, so you’re most likely to find me in town, having some liquid goodness, dancing around or fundraising for charities. If not, check the airport, it’s always a good bet too. Follow me on Instagram @wheretofindmarina
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