TIC (December, 2019) – Ah, the holidays….  For some of us, this time of year is magical!  A time to celebrate all that we are grateful for with family and friends.  For others, this time of year is challenging due to the stressors of gift giving if money is tight, food insecurity, hectic schedules, isolation from others, or family dynamics.

Students may have escalated behaviors the week before and after the holidays.  Due to social media and the excitement peers exhibit, some of our students may be aware of the differences in how holidays are celebrated.  Some families have the means to travel, receive nice gifts, and have abundant food to enjoy. Other students may have lost a relative, have a family member in jail, be in foster care, or are homeless.  There is a huge continuum of what students, and our coworkers, may experience during this time of year. We need to be aware of this and sensitive to student behaviors and needs.

While schools balance academic needs with preparation for holiday concerts and activities, the holidays may weigh heavily on people’s minds and create stress. Remember to eat healthy foods and get an appropriate amount of sleep and exercise.

Take care of yourself so that you can be your best for your family, friends, and students.  Our natural impulse during the winter is to hibernate, and it’s not uncommon to feel the lure of the couch or the early bedtime.

Along with the desire to sleep more, you may feel hungrier than usual. This is also nature at work, as our bodies want us to add a little bit of extra fat to get through the long, cold winter. Yet you should consider balancing out this extra sleep and food with spending as much as possible in natural sunlight, as that helps create Vitamin D. Regular exercise also helps to balance all these demands.

Later nights celebrating the season will throw off your internal clock (which may still be adjusting to Daylight Saving Time) and may cause you to feel more fatigued. Tiredness taxes your immune system, and resulting illnesses can derail your plans and attitude. Yes, it’s good to celebrate, but do your best to find the proper balance between fun and rest.

Try to set aside evenings to get together with your loved ones and help them make the most of the season. Today’s fast-paced world causes many of us to lose sight of their important role in our life, and this time of the year serves as a good reminder of their connection to us.  That being understood, there will be certain family members who may stress you out. For those situations, you have to make a call between your loyalty to them and your need to take care of yourself. Keep in mind that for many of us, our friends are our de facto family. Be sure to set time aside for them.

Along with the importance of family, the holiday season helps to remind us to be good to other people. You won’t have to look very far to find volunteer activities that enable you to practice kindness toward others.

*December Tip of the Month was modified from a blog on the link below: https://education.cu-portland.edu/blog/curriculum-teaching-strategies/teachers-holiday-season-tips/ from an article by Brian Gatens • November 10, 2014