The vacations at Oxford offer students a valuable opportunity for personal development, gaining experience, engaging in self-directed study, and, of course, rest. However, they can also pose challenges. These challenges vary depending on individual circumstances.
Some students will return home to be with their families or pursue work experience. This can present new demands or stresses around familiar, sometimes difficult patterns of relating with family members or carers or adjusting to a new professional working environment while interning.
In contrast, others might face the difficulty of not having a family home to return to because it is a difficult environment or due to estrangement or a care-experienced background. Additionally, some international students may be unable to return home during extended breaks like Christmas or the summer.
Regardless of your situation, it is important to consider how you can work towards good mental health and wellbeing during these vacation periods.
Managing existing mental health challenges is also important, for example, regular check-ins with your local GP.
It's common for students, even during vacations, to place excessive pressure on themselves to excel and overwork. Visit the vacation welfare support page to find support that's right for you.
Tips to elevate your mood and enhance your wellbeing
Plan and prepare in advance of vacations:
- Write down the days you'll be surrounded by people or have a lot going on. Consider them beforehand if you think they might be challenging, and identify when you'll need extra support or breaks.
- Identify the people and resources you want to use for support. Talk with these people beforehand or investigate a resource to help you define strategies for coping.
- Set your intentions: Whether you sleep, how you eat, how much you drink, where exercise plays a role, or whether you engage in specific conversations, set your intentions in advance so you can feel in control at the moment.
- Create a formal timetable, i.e., working schedule trips to the library, and an informal non-work timetable – factoring in a break, exercise, or time with a friend.
- Take time to get support from people who understand your experiences
- Go for a walk alone in a favourite location or walk with someone who helps you feel better
- Plan to meditate in a way that works for you and will help you to feel calm and gain perspective.
Many students and staff at Oxford find developing a simple mindfulness practice beneficial to their wellbeing. Perhaps start with a 3-minute breathing space to ground yourself and become aware of your breath. Find resources and free audio practices from the Oxford Mindfulness Foundation.
In non-urgent times, ring-fence a bit of time to look at self-help resources as they can offer tried and tested strategies and insights into mental health difficulties and challenges. It can be harder to engage with self-help when in a crisis.
If you need a safe space to talk with others who understand, try Togetherall; it's a free, safe, anonymous online community where you can give and get support from others. You can register for free with your Oxford email.
Explore Oxford's Student Welfare Support Services.