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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, we expect to think, feel and act a certain way,” says Melissa Gray, a counsellor with SAIT’s  Student Development and Counselling.

But like everything else this year, the holidays will be different. Here are Gray’s tips for closing out 2020 with your mental health in mind.

Honour your learnings from 2020

Make time to celebrate navigating a very unusual year.

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.

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.

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.

Focus on what you can control

This year we’ve had to reimagine many ordinary life events — holiday gatherings included. Plan to meet up with friends, classmates and loved ones virtually, ensuring everyone has what they need ahead of time to make it fun and meaningful. Check out tips from a SAIT Hospitality Management instructor for hosting your own cyber celebration.

Missing the hustle and bustle of seasonal shindigs? Fill your calendar with virtual events to widen your perspective from SAIT’s Associate Director, Equity, Diversity and Inclusion John Partington.

Get outside

Working, learning and connecting remotely means we’re not getting outdoors as much as we should. 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.  

Develop a long-term perspective

We all want to see the current health emergency resolved quickly, but our coping methods have to match the reality of today.

“Shift your perspective to focus on the positive overall direction we’re headed and recommit to goals made early in the pandemic to help get us there,” says Gray.


SAIT Student Development and Counselling will be closed from Dec. 24 to Jan. 4, 2021. If you’re seeking support over the holidays, refer to free and confidential community resources in Calgary and across Canada. There are also self-help tools and resources available to students.

Looking for some more ideas for winter fun? Check out this list of virtual winter experiences.  


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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