Holiday Safety Planning and Self-Care Guide

Welcome to the Holiday Safety Planning and Self-Care Guide brought to you by University Counseling Services’ Advocacy Program and The Health Promotion and Well-being Center (The Well). We know that the holidays can be challenging, and with the added stressors that this year may have brought, we’re here to support you. In this guide, you’ll find resources for safety planning and ways to engage in self-care.

Safety Plan

What is a safety plan? A safety plan is a personalized, practical, plan to improve your safety and well-being by identifying coping strategies, trusted loved ones to confide in, and community resources that can provide additional support.

Physical Safety

You have a right to feel safe in your space and within relationships. Physical safety planning can include attending to injuries, feeling safe where you live, work, or visit, and finding supportive networks.

Emotional Safety Planning

Emotional safety can look different for everyone. Ultimately the goal is to develop a personalized plan that helps you process your emotions and build resilience.

Tips for Navigating Differences in Values or Politics

Complicated dynamics exist within families and communities, often causing many VCU students to grapple with standing up for their values/beliefs without negatively impacting their relationships with family members. Here are some tips for navigating dialogues around differences in values or politics.

Before the Conversation

During the Conversation

Following the Conversation

Safety Planning and COVID-19

It is important to consider your safety, and the safety of people around you, particularly as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some VDH guidelines to keep in mind this holiday season:

Sample Safety Plan: When in times of ongoing stress, our minds and bodies react in ways that we may not always recognize or understand. Creating a safety plan can help us identify our physical and emotional responses, the ways that we cope, and what supportive resources may be available.

  1. I know I am overwhelmed, or in need of support, when I feel or experience the following difficult emotions (e.g. worried, anxious, angry, scared): __________

    Changes in routine or habits (e.g. difficulty reaching out for support, drinking or using substances, changes in eating habits, lack of motivation):__________________

    Physical responses (e.g. tightness in the neck and shoulders, heart racing, feeling flushed, sleep difficulties):_________
  2. I can tell my family, co-workers, boss, counselor, or friend about my situation. I feel safe telling…. (Name, Contact info): _________________
  3. These are the ways I can cope if a loved one is not available to support me (i.e. relaxation techniques, distraction, physical activity)_____________
  4. I can make up a "code word" or phrase for my family, co-workers, friends, and counselor so they know when to call for help for me. My codeword/phrase is: _____
  5. These are the places I feel physically safe: _________

Check out the resources section and our Linktree for support around a variety of health and safety issues:

Self-care Checklist

Recommended Apps for Wellbeing



Mental Health

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