Depression: Summer Holiday Coping Tips For Students

As a student, the summer holidays can be daunting. The long weeks can stretch out in front of us and feel endless. Everyone around us seems happy, and the sun is shining so it can feel like we have no excuse not to be happy! We might have left a support system behind when returning home after studying away, perhaps returning to a family who don’t know about, or understand, how we’re feeling. It can feel really lonely.

It’s absolutely okay not to be jumping for joy at the prospect of the summer holidays, though, you are definitely not alone.

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We’ve asked our Peer Support Group, and some other students, for some coping tips to help you face those summer months:

Create a routine

Having a routine can help long days to feel more manageable. It can also help with remembering to do those important things that are so easy to forget, like taking medication or cleaning your teeth.

I find one thing that quells my anxiety is to have a fixed routine. So I tend to go:
Week 1 – Rest and relaxation. Catching up on life admin like hair cuts and dentist appointments. Becoming addicted to a box set or a book.
Week 2 – Catch up with friends
Week 3 – Get away for a few days (doesn’t have to be abroad, but often a bit of time and space away from reality is excellent for clearing one’s head!)!
Weeks 4 and 5 – Find a daily routine and stick to it. Getting out of the house helps.
Week 6 – Prepare for returning to work. What can you do to make going back to [school/uni] less daunting?

Try to start every day off with a shower, even the bad days, it can be difficult but being clean helps so much

Self-care

Taking care of ourselves is so at odds with how depression makes us feel, but it is important to try and build in a little self-care.

Plan in some self-care – a bath or film or book you can curl up with

Try to eat regularly. It’s really easy to let time pass and forget, but break the day up with meal times and maybe a walk afterwards.

Try & surround yourself with your favorite things, I’m drinking so many cups of tea at the moment

Plan things in

Having things to look forward to can help to combat the feeling that summer is never-ending and can give us a reason to get up, dressed and out of the house.

Make a couple of plans to go places or see people. Even if you don’t feel like it, making plans will give you some motivation to get out and about.

I find it really helpful to make plans so I always have something to look forward to.

To avoid it feeling like an endless stretch of stress, I write a plan of which activities I want to do each day.

Keep in touch with other students

It’s really easy to shut ourselves off from the world when we have no school or uni to force us to talk to people, especially when our friends might be away or busy. It can help to try and keep in touch with people, though, even if it’s just the odd text.

Remembering to talk to friends and family, try not to isolate yourself.

I arrange to see friends who are good for my mental health and who I can talk to openly.

Start a project

Projects can be great for providing a purpose and a focus. It doesn’t need to be anything huge; try to find something that you enjoy or find relaxing.

Start a project like writing a book, learning a language, or a craft project. It will give you something to focus on and a sense of purpose and achievement.

Doing a project or activity (like volunteering, working, work experience, blogging, art etc) can motivate you, give you something to do, a little bit of structure and perhaps helps to meet people or just take your mind off things. It could be something like volunteering, work experience, blogging, cleaning up your room, finishing a colouring book, or even reading books you have bought but never read.

Tick Things Off

Having to-do lists and ticking things off can help us to feel more productive. List items don’t have to be massive tasks; it could include things like showering, hoovering the floor, or doing some washing.

Small tasks/tick lists are a good way to feel “productive” without totally exhausting yourself

Let some light in

It can be really tempting to shut the curtains and hide from the world at times, but even if we don’t feel up to leaving the house, opening the curtains and letting some light in can really help to boost our mood.

Don’t spend all day in bed with the curtains shut

It’s good to leave the curtains open, waking up with sunlight is easier

Get some fresh air

Sometimes it can feel like the world is closing in. Getting some fresh air can help to lift that a little bit. If going out and about feels unachievable; just open your window or sit out in the garden.

Walking in the sunshine and feeling the warmth on your skin! I used to stay indoors when I was down but I wish I’d got out more.

I’d also recommend encouraging going for walks if it’s a nice day, although it’s difficult to want to get out of the house, fresh air can really help.

If you’ve got kids (or you’re looking after kids)

Some of us have kids, others get roped into looking after younger family members or friend’s children. Children can be exhausting, and sometimes quite isolating. It can really help to plan some ‘me time’ into the day.

Making a den or starting an imaginative game can help the kids settle to playing on their own. I actually say to my boys that I need some quiet time to improve my patience, and see it as some necessary time out in order to cope with the rest of the day.

Arrange some playdates (even hosting them works for me as the kids disappear upstairs with their friends).

Get some support

Getting some support can be particularly important during those times when our counsellor, GP or other professional heads off on annual leave. We might have friends or family who can support us, and our Peer Support Group is filled with lots of lovely people willing to provide a listening ear (and never goes on holiday!).

My counsellor often goes away for 3-4 weeks, it’s really important for me to reach out to others rather than try to struggle on alone.

It’s good to arrange some kind of plan with a friend like “if you don’t see me online or I haven’t spoken to you for a few days or you have suspicions that I might be closing off give me a call”

We hope you’ve found this helpful – if you have any other ideas for students coping with the summer holidays, we’d love to hear them!

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  • Dr Knut Schroeder

    This is a really useful post. The summer weeks and months can be a lonely time for students, and the lack of structure can make days feel overwhelming. I like your suggestions of creating structure and ticking things off.

    • The Blurt Foundation

      So glad you like the post, and thank you for your lovely comment 🙂