With the holidays and subsequent winter break quickly approaching, it’s time to start making plans. As stressful as this time of year can be, especially now with the COVID-19 pandemic still in full swing, it’s imperative you’re taking the right precautions to keep your physical, emotional, and mental health safe.
Whether you’re traveling back home or staying in place this year, here are some tips worth keeping in mind over the upcoming winter break:
Brush Up on Road Safety Tips
Many students are most likely finding their travel plans up in the air this year. For some, flying back home is no longer a possibility as airplanes can be major hotspots for the spread of COVID-19. With that in mind, there’ll likely be more cars than usual on the road as people try to travel more safely back home. Beyond being a more attentive and cautious driver to better navigate the increase in traffic, it’s also important to remember basic safety tips if your car breaks down:
- Be Prepared: Before you hit the road, pack your car with an emergency kit that includes essentials such as water, blankets, personal safety accessories, and first aid necessities. It may take a while for help to reach you if you get stuck in a snowbank in a remote area or the like, so it’s always a good idea to be prepared in case you have to wait a bit.
- Stay With Your Vehicle: If you’re in a hurry and break down, it might be tempting to start walking towards the nearest gas station or town, but that can be dangerous. You could be injured by other drivers while walking or get lost in dangerously cold temperatures. If you have to walk, make sure you are as visible as possible to others.
- Get Your Car Off of the Road (If Possible): The best-case scenario if you’re having car issues is to get on the shoulder of the road; however, that’s not always possible. If you break down in the middle of the road, most cars can still be steered to a safe waiting area with the help of another passenger. If you’re traveling alone though, the risks that come with trying to steer and push your car to the shoulder are sometimes more dangerous than breaking down on the road itself. If you can’t move, make yourself as visible as possible with your hazards, flares, flags, or reflectors to avoid accidents.
Of course, the ideal situation is that you’ll arrive at your destination without any hiccups — but on the off chance that something does go awry, knowing what to do can keep you safe and get you back on the road faster.
Practice Self-Regulation to Combat Stress
This year has been an extremely difficult time for several reasons: sudden campus closures, remote learning difficulties, canceled social events, and more. And now, many students are feeling the mental and emotional health strain of not being able to go back home to see loved ones during major holidays.
Learning more about self-regulation skills and utilizing them is a great and healthier way for students, beyond the pandemic and holidays, to handle stressors. Additionally, self-regulation skills make things such as completing assignments, regulating our emotions, and preparing for upcoming semesters more manageable. Of course, this can be helpful for anyone, regardless of age or station in life, but with higher rates of depression and anxiety among young adults, developing self-regulation skills and anticipating setbacks can be critical to being safer and more successful.
Don’t Be Afraid to Get Professional Help
If there was only one word to sum up this year, a strong contender would likely be disappointment. With most major social events such as Rush Week, homecoming, and school games being canceled, along with internships, performances, and other extracurricular activities, this year is disappointing for a lot of students. Of course, these are necessary precautions to ensure the safety of campuses and communities, but it can still be hard to come to terms with.
Luckily, there are resources to help you if you find yourself struggling to cope with everything this year. Moreover, with the increased use of telemedicine thanks to COVID-19, setting up virtual sessions with a therapist or campus counselor is easier than ever. Check your campus-provided counseling resources to see if they’re a fit for you and your needs or, if you’re under 26 years old and still on your parent’s insurance, set up an appointment with your healthcare provider to get a referral. It’s okay to need a little extra help sorting through your emotions during this crisis, especially while also juggling your academic life.
AUTHOR BIO: Sam Bowman has a passion for learning. As a seasoned professional writer, he specializes in topics about people, education, tech and how they merge. In his spare time he likes running, reading, and combining the two in a run to his local bookstore.