The holidays are well-known for increased levels of anxiety, stress and depression. The stress of final projects and exams, poor health, travel and other holiday expenses can exacerbate feelings of loneliness, especially in college, when many students are away from their families for the first time, or even those on the cusp of adulthood. For the latter, they are just beginning a transition from being a part of their parents' family and starting their own. This can be stressful in its own right, serving as a reminder of the last chances to fall back on family support.
A Danish study found that suicide rates increase by 40 percent in the time period just after Christmas, though those same rates for the rest of the month of December are relatively static.
ASU Counseling Services offers many resources for those feeling down in the dumps, including mental health hotlines and special events to reach out to students.
In addition to ASU resources, it's important for us to engage and connect with friends, who can become a sort of makeshift family. Often, out-of-state students can count on their friends to include them in their holiday plans — "Friends-giving" is a "new tradition" gaining traction among many college students.
The holidays are also a great time to host White Elephant gift exchange get-togethers, which are perfect for college students on a budget. That old "Best of ABBA" album you haven't listened to in forever would make a nice White Elephant gift, as would absolutely anything you don't have any use for anymore: the weirder and funnier the gift, the better.
If you're staying on campus during the holiday break, empty dorm rooms and closed dining halls can be a bummer. While we don't recommend participating in Black Friday (people get way too intense about the midnight shopping deals and disregard basic social niceties), CityScape in Phoenix will host Alternative Black Friday, featuring the Vintage Market on Nov. 29.
If you don't want to contribute your money to rampant corporate consumerism, consider Small Business Saturday — and rationalize away any of your buyer's remorse by reminding yourself that you contributed to your local economy. If you prefer to shop while at work or in the privacy of your own home while eating Thanksgiving leftovers and binge-watching "Breaking Bad," you can do that, too, thanks to Cyber Monday deals.
If you're still feeling down this holiday season, check out some of the great movies coming out just in time for the break, including "The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug," "Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues" and "Saving Mr. Banks."
Keep your head up through the last few weeks of the semester: We're almost there.
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