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Tips for merry mental health

Like a beautifully wrapped present, the holiday season fuels excited curiosity and high expectations of what’s to come.

“In December, there is pressure to think, feel and act in certain ways, despite how we may be truly feeling,” says Melissa Gray, a registered psychologist and counsellor with SAIT’s  Student Development and Counselling.

As you head into the 2021 holiday season, here are Gray’s tips for closing out the year with your mental health in mind.

Make a game plan


With the return of in-person gatherings this holiday season, people may be facing additional pressures.

Some ways to ease those pressures are:

  • Take a gradual approach by not overcommitting to gatherings beyond your energy levels.
  • If you're hosting, make sure guests have the necessary information needed to make attendance decisions.
  • Set time boundaries for events to support meaningful interaction.

📱 Download the Headversity app — your own personal resilience coach — for ideas on energy management and more.

Practice kindness


The holiday season can be a good time to flex our kindness and compassion muscles. Even in the midst of the holiday rush — pause before reacting — people show stress in different ways. What is happening for another may not be immediately apparent. Give people time and set an intention to listen this season.

🌠 Find small ways to perform acts of kindness, which can be a fun way to spread joy.

Honour your learnings from 2021


Make time to celebrate navigating a very unusual time.

How many changes have you had to make this year? What’s one challenge you feel good about overcoming? Try writing down your answers or sharing with a friend.

👉 Learn about the eight dimensions of wellness and how you can develop each one with our Outreach and Wellness Leaders (OWLs).

Find a helpful way to work through emotions


Processing emotions with other people isn’t for everyone — find strategies that work for you.

“Exercise and physical movement, writing, playing music and singing provide an outlet for releasing stress hormones and help shift emotions,” says Gray.

👉 Untangle life's stresses and challenges with Therapy Assistance Online (TAO), which is a collection of exercises, modules and personal wellness courses designed to help you manage your own emotional well-being. Plus, add Resilience 101: Tools for Lasting Success (only 12 hours) to your list over the break and add to your co-curricular record.

Wrap yourself up in nostalgia


During times of uncertainty, our minds and bodies crave the comfort of the familiar.

“For many, holiday rituals and traditions offer security in their predictability,” says Gray.

Lean into your favourite tradition — whether it’s watching movies, baking cookies or sitting by a fireplace with a good book.

Get outside


Take time out from tech and step into the snow and sunshine.

“Fresh air and exercise are proven to combat fatigue and give our minds a new take on situations,” says Gray. Outdoor activities are a safe and inclusive way to gather. Consider incorporating specific outdoor breaks during holiday festivities: take a stroll in the neighbourhood, go on a visit to the mountains or try skating at a local rink.

December 2021 in Calgary

Winter activities from the City of Calgary

🏔 What to do in Banff in winter

Mental health resources


SAIT Student Development and Counselling will be closed from Dec. 24 to Jan. 4, 2022.

If you’re seeking support over the holidays, refer to free and confidential community resources in Calgary and across Canada. In an emergency, call 911 or visit your local hospital.

👉 Crisis support | Life threatening, after hours 24/7, community resources, walk-in counselling

There are also self-help tools and resources available for students.

Community resources across Canada

Crisis Services Canada

☎ Call toll-free 1.833.456.4566 (24/7)

  • Canada’s Suicide Prevention Services
  • Support for people who are in crisis and/or suicidal


☎ Call 211 (24/7)

📱 Text 211 (24/7)

  • live free and confidential chat available
  • mental health/addictions
  • find programs and services in your community

Student success is at the core of SAIT’s values, and mental health and well-being is vital to that success. Through collaborative action and an inclusive spirit of community support,  SAIT’s Student Mental Health Strategy will foster a climate for learning that empowers our students to thrive.

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