Have you ever felt like a break has gone by and you are just as tired and frazzled as you were when the break started? This definitely happens to me — sometimes, particularly over shorter breaks, you might be going on a trip or doing so much that there isn’t much time to relax. But on Christmas break, the big breather between the fall and spring semesters, it’s key to use your time wisely or face serious burnout, since you have the golden opportunity.
But for some reason, we can tend not to use break time wisely. We overdo it on the “relaxing” side of things, watching TV, sleeping in and staying up late. Maybe that’s what we feel like doing, but it’s not what’s best for our bodies and minds if we do too much of it.
Sometimes we choose the relaxation we want not the relaxation that we need. This year, since I’m working my internship not at school, I’ve only got 10 days, so I’m following a few guidelines to make the most out of my break, and I thought those of you in college especially would benefit from implementing a few of these ideas to get back to school, work, what have you in January feeling refreshed and rejuvenated.
Taking care of your body over Christmas break
Our bodies really take a hit during tough semesters or periods of challenging times at work, not to mention the emotional ups and downs that frequently happen during the school year and often intensify over the holidays. Breaks, especially the long ones, are when your body really deserves some TLC to make up for everything it’s been through over the last few weeks or months! Here’s some of the best things you can do.
•Get a good night’s sleep — It can be tempting to stay up late with no 8 a.m.s and no exams — after all, you’ve earned, it haven’t you? But come early January, you’ll wish you’d recharged. Besides, the vacation hours you are awake for are way more high quality when you’re feeling well rested. It’s also a good idea to get to bed a little earlier and get up a little earlier as much as possible so the transition back to school/work isn’t as jarring and unpleasant. I’m not saying in bed at 10 and up at 6, but try to avoid too many all-nighters and super late nights
•Hit the gym — Another great reason to sleep is so you can be well rested for the workouts that you now have extra time for! I work out almost every day over Christmas break versus about four times a week during the school year, and it’s great to to take extra time at the end of one year to get in the groove of working out so you can keep those fitness New Year’s Resolutions. I’m sure you’re well aware of all the benefits of exercise, and Christmas break is one time where you can really devote some bonus time to fitness so you can justify those cupcakes and pumpkin pies!
•Eat a balanced diet — Speaking of cupcakes and pies, try to eat some non-junk food around all the festive favorites. A good piece of advice I picked up somewhere is to save your junk calorie allotment for really special foods. Grandma’s cheesecake? Check. Uncle Rudy’s eggnog? Check. Donuts from Harris Teeter? Not so much. Skip the empty calories that are everywhere year round, so you can enjoy the festive, family tradition favorites that happen to be unhealthy without feeling guilty or gaining a bunch of extra fat.
Get a head start on January
•Knock out over the break work early — A friend of mine a couple years ago left about 300 pages of assigned reading and 2 papers for Christmas break until the last weekend of the break. She got back to school stressed out and tired from an exhausting weekend of catchup. This is the ultimate time to not procrastinate! Knock out any work for next semester’s classes at the beginning of the break so you don’t have to worry about it and you can kick back and relax.
•Prep yourself for next semester — Set up your planner, print out your class schedule or save it to your phone, make sure you know where your buildings are, check if textbooks are available for free or super cheap online, make sure you have the supplies that you need, wash all your sheets and bedding (if it’s different from your home bedding) and pack it up for move-in week, the list goes on. Just make sure that all those little preparation tasks are taken care of (ideally early on in the break) so you don’t have to worry about them last minute and you can get a psychological confidence booster from how prepared you are for the new year!
Invest in personal development
•Read your Bible at a set time every day — Ok, maybe not EXACTLY the same time every day, but try to carve out a daily quiet time and stick to it. At least plan the next day’s quiet time at the end of each day, because it’s easy for it to get squeezed out around catching up with friends and family, holiday parties, and all the fun stuff you’ve been wanting to have time for all semester. First thing in the morning is the ideal time since it guarantees you won’t forget or get too busy over the course of the day. I don’t know about you, but often at the end of a long semester, or this year after several months of hard work, I can feel a little spiritually depleted. I’m gonna make another run through my weeklong Bible study challenge the first week of my break (which officially begins next Friday!) to get my little break off on the right foot. Check it out if you need some inspiration!
•Read a good book — Reading keeps your brain going while you’re away from your studies, stimulates the imagination, gives you fresh inspiration — the list of reasons to read goes on and on. Plus it’s a great way to pass the time on flights or car rides home and to see family and friends. I always try to read at least one really thought-provoking, well-written book over the break while I have the extra leisure time on my hands.
•Prioritize “me time” — Yes, the holidays are all about family, but particularly if you’re introverted, you can’t enjoy your family time if you aren’t getting any time to relax and just be alone with yourself. My favorite “me time” is going to the gym, taking a hot shower, and then curling up to watch Netflix with my cat or listen to some great music and work on this blog — and of course, read. I try to make sure that at least every couple days on vacation I can have 2 or 3 hours to myself to enjoy some R&R. It makes the times with friends and family much better, and makes it a lot easier to jump back into the busy world of work and school and activities once early January rolls around. Check out my self-care tips if you’re looking for a new way to treat yo self this holiday season.
What are some things that you do over breaks to unwind, and what do you absolutely have to do before you feel prepped for a new semester?