Christmas beats Stress

My name is Josie. I’m a second year English student studying abroad in Germany. I decided to take a year away from Sussex and bring myself to the exotic tropics of Munich, Upper Bavaria, surrounded by lederhosen and mountains.

As this blog for the University of Sussex starts in January, I thought I’d start my first post with reflections on Christmas. My friend Emma and I decided to get away for a weekend to explore the Christmas markets in Berlin – and boy, were they worth it. Christmas lights twinkling everywhere, glühwein, and just that Christmassy feeling of giddiness was everywhere.

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But then I returned to Munich and the reality of deadlines that seep into every student’s life until suddenly you find yourself blinking in tired confusion at the pile of work you need to sift through. It got me thinking, is there any way that Christmas can somehow cure stress? (Yes, yes there is indeed.)

  1. Hot chocolate. Hot chocolate hot chocolate hot chocolate. An absolute must. Just don’t let a librarian catch you sipping surreptitiously in a corner of the library..
  2. Ice-skating. The rinks in Karlsplatz and Brighton Pavilion are pretty paramount to maintaining your sanity. After a day of essay lockdown, why not simply skate away from your problems?
  3. Soup. Not necessarily Christmassy, but soup definitely helps when you can feel yourself drowning internally with your winter cold. As well as screwing your nose ever, colds tend to fluff up your brain. Soup should help flush that out, and it’s pretty easy going on a student budget. Plus healthy food = healthy mind = wicked exam answers and essays.
  4. Glühwein. There is nothing like sitting down with friends after a long stressed-out week and gulping down mulled wine – (mulled apple juice is pretty rad non-alcoholic option). Even with deadlines, it’s important not to go into social Area 51, never to be seen again until the following January with eyes twitching. Stress is beaten better when you can talk about it with others, for sure.
  5. Christmas is the season of love thy neighbour. Knowing that I wasn’t going home over Christmas meant that I actually skyped my family more than I usually would. My sister is definitely one of the closest friends that I have. Students (especially freshers – I did this) tend to forget during the first semester that they even have a family. Family have put up with your stressed-out self for years (especially during that dreaded A-Level/international equivalents period). They are probably the best people to help you destress, and most likely appreciate calls/time spent together during December and January.

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So, that is my advice on how Christmas doesn’t have to be one of the most stressful parts of the academic year. The tips are pretty basic – be healthy, be communicative. Obviously this can be hard to maintain – exam season is usually hell. But as someone who tends toward fairly high stress levels, these little items and slips of advice have helped me through some pretty stress-screeching times.

Josie Mortimer is a third year English Literature student on a Year Abroad at Ludwigs-Maximilians Universität, Munich.

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