After finals, students are graced with a month-long break from December into January. Winter break is supposed to give students a chance to spend time with their families and recuperate after a few months of hard work. But some employers and dedicated students might ask too much of themselves during the break by taking up shifts at their jobs, looking for jobs or internships for the summer or even preparing for the next semester. All of these are great endeavors and an important part of the college experience but that doesn’t have to happen during the few breaks you get during the academic year.
It’s no secret that college students get stressed out. We have a heavy course load, an active social life, plan our career path and even take up a job or internship. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America in a 2015 College Health Assessment, 85 percent of college students reported they had felt overwhelmed by everything they had to do at some point in the year.
So it only makes sense that when we have the opportunity to relax, we should take it in full stride. But for months, we are in overdrive and then expected to just unwind and sometimes we aren’t used to that “stop and go.” I know for me the first few days of break I’m basically a zombie watching tv shows, binge-eating home cooked meals and maybe seeing a few friends and family from home. Then, after that first week, I’m tempted to pick up a book or open my laptop. Call it a force of habit or curiosity, I find myself searching for internships and research opportunities in my field. I feel with our generation we are acutely aware of how competitive jobs are so we sacrifice all the time we can to get ahead. It’s not healthy and keeping this mentality up for too long can cause burnouts and, as great as being stuck on the couch mentally might sound, it’s not pretty and it’s hard to break the cycle once.
We all hear how we need to maintain a healthy self-care but we need to take it more seriously. It’s hard to ignore that voice in the back of your head that wants you to do more and stay focused but you need to ignore it sometimes. Thats not to say you won’t ever get to those items on your to-do list it just means that you are putting them off until after you recharge your batteries. That’s why in real-world jobs provide vacation days. They want employees to have a break every once and awhile so when they come back to work they are re-energized. The same goes for college, just on a larger scale. In a career, your job usually lasts a nine to five time slot and you can go home and unwind. But with college, it is 24/7; early morning classes and night classes, clubs and organizations, pulling all-nighters and the maybe even a 20-hour work schedule on top of the heap. We need to be more kind to ourselves and cut ourselves some slack to have some serious downtime and the best time for that is our scheduled break. So close the books and take some much needed “me-time” this winter break. All those responsibilities for your college career will still be here waiting for you when you return.