Adjusting from the chaos of the end of the fall semester can be a difficult process. Many college students go from sleep-deprived cram fests during finals week to the sleep-filled bliss of being at home. As strange as it may sound, however, life back on the home front doesn't always promise a lot of rest and relaxation if you don't know how to actively make some for yourself.
[Get more tips for adjusting to winter break.]
• Physical R&R: Ah, sleep. That lovely experience you never seem to get enough of in college. Catching up on your sleep when you first arrive home is of course a priority. Once you're feeling rested, however, it's important to remain mindful of your sleep for the rest of your break. After all, who wants to start the new semester sleep-deprived?
Can you spend some late nights out with friends during the break? Of course. But keep in mind, too, that sleep is an important part of your overall health. Do your best to keep a consistent sleep schedule—not going to bed too late and not getting up too late either—as often as possible during the break. And even though you were able to get by with a few hours of sleep sometimes back at school, regularly getting a full night's sleep during your break is a smart and easy way to take care of yourself.
[Learn more about how to ensure a healthy college experience.]
• Mental R&R: Your brain may technically be an organ, but just like your muscles, it needs a break from time to time. After the workout you gave it during finals week (not to mention the entire semester), your brain could use a little TLC.
Exercise your brain in fun ways that you may not have had the time or opportunity to do during the semester. Read a book just for pleasure. Buy a sports magazine and read it cover to cover. Grab an old collection of your favorite poems, head to a coffee shop, and camp out for an hour or two without having to worry about taking notes or being quizzed on the content later.
Additionally, try to use part of your brain that you maybe didn't get to use much while you were in classes. Learn new, fun things just for fun: Sign up to learn how to use a knife properly in the kitchen, learn how to salsa dance, or meander around a local art museum just to see what's there. (Don't forget to use your student ID for a discount, too!)
[Consider college recreation classes to reduce stress.]
• Academic R&R: Your academics—and, in essence, the diploma you're working for— are the primary goal of your college experience. Keeping that in mind, spend a little time analyzing what lessons you've learned about your academic experience and how you can make things a little easier for yourself next semester.
Did you, for example, find yourself procrastinating too much? Come up with some steps on how to avoid doing so once you return to campus. Were your group study sessions not as productive as they should have been? Think about how better to study by yourself, how to find a new group, or how to better focus the group you're in.
Were you a rock star when it came to writing lab reports but lacking when it came to writing essays? Spend some time finding out what resources you can use on campus (like a writing center or peer adviser) that can help you next time you have an essay due.
While it might be nice to view your breaks as a separate experience from your college life, the reality is that everything you do during your time as a college student is connected. Consequently, treating yourself kindly, getting some rest, and preparing yourself for the next semester is a wise way to get the most out of your time off. Spending a little time on personal TLC now is a great step toward making sure you start the next semester rested, recovered, and ready to go.
Do you have tips on how to truly let yourself relax during a college break? Or did you learn the hard way what not to do? Let other readers know in the comments below!