We finally made it through one of the most difficult school years to date. We endured mental, physical, emotional and financial hardships as we pursued education during the pandemic. We managed to get through an entire year of mostly online courses. This difficulty was compounded by the lack of a fall and spring break. We spent the year worried about our own and our loved ones’ health. In its simplest terms, this school year was hard. But, we finally made it to summer. Let’s use this summer to take a real break and relax a bit — because we all deserve and need it.
The day my school shifted online for the rest of the year, I thought to myself, “Wow, I’ll finally be able to take a break.” With over a year of a pandemic behind me, I can safely say that I was wrong. Spending time at home isn’t a break — it’s a change of environment. Yes, the change can be refreshing, but it doesn’t do much long-term. I always thought that taking a break meant spending time by myself and at home. As the pandemic has progressed, I’ve seen that isolation foster a lack of focus and poor mental health. I’m doing my schoolwork and work in the same room I sleep in. The lack of separation between these aspects of my life is bad for my mental health. I’m not alone in that struggle as isolation, anxiety and lack of focus are common for nearly half of all students during the pandemic. Workers were already expected to be available at each and every moment. The pandemic accelerated this expectation. If we don’t take a break now, then our future may never have a work-life balance.
Tips for Taking a Break
Taking a break is more than just being at home and by yourself. It should include time for yourself, creativity and socialization. The ability to take breaks is a privilege. Not everyone can take a week off of work to enjoy the outdoors and catch up on sleep. But there are ways that we can alter our everyday habits to better take care of ourselves. First of all, it’s important to set time aside for yourself. This helps improve your mental and physical health. My favorite way to do this is by reading a book or journaling.
Do something creative. This is easily forgotten, but still crucial. Creativity manifests itself in so many different forms — so find what works for you. A few months into the pandemic, I recognized that I had abandoned my typical creative activities like picking out what clothes to wear to school. Because of the pandemic, I switched to wearing leggings and hoodies all day and lost a very important outlet. Creativity improves both your mental and physical health, so make time for it.
Try to socialize, but do so safely. It’s easy to shut everyone out; I know I did. Technology is a great way to socialize safely. Video chatting can reduce depression and loneliness. Seeing people in person is now a possibility with vaccinations, but do so following CDC guidelines. I personally struggle with making these changes for my health, but the one thing that convinces me to take a break is the idea that it’ll help me more in the future.
Looking Towards the Future
Taking a real break over the summer will make next school year an overall better experience. Taking a break provides an opportunity for reflection. What went well this year? Where can you improve? What goals do you have and how will you accomplish them? These are all important questions to ponder over your break. It’ll help you have a more successful year next year. It’ll also help you recognize how far you’ve come during this rough time. Taking a break is crucial for maintaining performance. We all watched our performance drop halfway through the semester because of the lack of a fall and spring break. Don’t let this happen again by pushing yourself too hard during the summer. Taking a break will help you refocus and energize for next year. This is what sells me on the idea. If I take a break, I’m more likely to have another successful year.
Please let yourself recharge and be happy this summer. After the year we have endured, taking a break is more important now than ever before. The pandemic isn’t over, but things are slowly starting to become more normal. Let’s take advantage of this shift and invest in ourselves by relaxing.