School counsellors shared a December “kindness calendar” with students and families on Haida Gwaii. Daily tips include getting outside, trying positive gossip, and calling a faraway relative. (Action for Happiness)

School counsellors share tips for a kinder, low-stress holiday season

Walk the beach, enjoy a hot bath, play games with family or friends — there are many ways to relax and enjoy the holidays.

But the many expectations that build up this time of year can also make it a stressful time, says Vanessa Marie, a counsellor with the Haida Gwaii School District.

That’s why Marie and fellow school counsellor Jenn Byrne-Wissink are giving a few self-care tips to students, families, and teachers this month.

“Every year we notice that this is a very busy time for us,” Marie said, noting that people may be stressed about money over the holidays, or missing a lost loved one at the table.

“There can be a lot of stress, even good stress around the holidays, and in order to take care of others, we need to take care of ourselves,” she said.

Among over a dozen self-care ideas the counsellors shared in a recent newsletter — things like working out, reading a book, spending time with loved ones — counsellors also suggest turning down the social media for a while.

Marie said it is possible to use social media in a meaningful way, but not so much when scrolling quickly through news feeds.

“You get kind of a quick fix, but it doesn’t really fill you up the way a real interaction might.”

Small acts of kindness also go a long way over the holidays, or any time, Marie added, and there are even apps for that — one on her phone sends her a daily reminder of ways to practice gratitude.

In her own experience, Marie has found her favourite way to enjoy the holidays is to give family and friends the gift of fun experiences rather than stuff — things like going sledding, or volunteering together, or playing puzzles and card games.

“We just spend a lot of time together,” she said.

Haida Gwaii youth centres also have plenty planned for the holiday break. Here is the list so far:

Old Massett Youth Centre (Call Jaasaljuss for info: 250-626-3573)

Dec. 21 Grosser Night

Dec. 22 Teen Christmas Party, 6:30 to 11 p.m.

Dec. 26-30: Christmas Classics basketball tournament

Dec. 29: Teen open gym, 7 to 11 p.m.

Dec. 31: New Year’s Eve party

Jan. 1: Polar bear swim

Jan. 2 to 4: Taaw Hill camp out

Hiit’aG̱an.iina Ḵuuyas Naay / Skidegate Youth Centre (Call Anna for info: 250-559-0046)

Dec. 22: Bus to Old Massett Teen Christmas Part, leaves at 5 p.m.

Dec. 27-28: Holiday activities, 3 to 9 p.m.

Dec. 29: Holiday teens night, 6 p.m. to midnight

Jan. 2-4: Open 3 to 9 p.m.

Jan. 5: Teens night, 6 p.m. to midnight

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