After a gruesome winter term, spring break was such an unsettling relief.
Unsettling because after my last empirical paper was turned in, it didn’t really feel like the end. Unsettling because for the past 10 weeks, I had been on a constant grind and all of the sudden my to-do list for school shrunk from 10+ items to just 2-3 items. Most of all, it was unsettling because I could actually sleep in, watch Netflix, and do nothing without feeling guilty (or maybe just a little guilty).
After what felt like a 10-week intense binge on coursework and teaching, spring break was an abrupt reality that led me to consciously think about what it meant to truly relax and maximize my time. Depending on who you are and your situation, this may mean different things. For some, this may mean catching up on other work. For others, this may mean doing nothing as much as they can. So, where do you start and how do you begin to know what your goals are for any upcoming break?
1. Align yourself to the current demands in your life.
I’m done with coursework for the term, but that doesn’t mean I’m done with school altogether. Just two days in, I already received advanced reading for one of my courses for the spring term. On top of that, I still have reading and writing to do for other research projects. Besides PhD stuff, I have tax forms to turn in, bills to pay, and some budgeting to do. Life moves on and adulting doesn’t stop.
2. Plan your goals.
I know that for myself, it helps to actually pencil in my goals on my calendar. Allow yourself to be productive in areas other than your academic life. How have you been doing socially? Mentally? Emotionally? Spiritually? How can you maximize your potential in the neglected areas of your life? Due to how busy I was during this term, I was really isolated from having a social life and having true down time for myself. This break, my goals are as follows:
- Spend quality time with my friends and significant other
- Read a book for leisure
- Sleep in
- Review some course material for next term
- Make some progress on my research
- Deep clean my place
- Enjoy myself
3. Execute and profit.
So far, I’ve spent some quality time with friends and SO exploring Portland, OR and doing a hike at the Trail of Ten Falls.
I’ve also slept in for the past three days and it’s been absolutely glorious. I plan to pick up a book tonight, start reviewing material tomorrow, and clean this weekend before the spring term begins. Giving myself permission to just enjoy myself the past few days has been an incredible boost to my social, mental, and emotional health.
4. Mentally prepare to get back to work.
This is the hardest step for me. After a week of bliss, the idea of starting up a new term is exhausting. The reality is that I will have to get back to the intense grind and rock the next ten weeks. In the last few moments of spring break, the one thing I can do is own my mentality. Just like I had to re-orient myself in the beginning of break, I have to again adjust to this transition. Rather than anticipating the next ten weeks to be dreadful, I will train myself to think otherwise. The next term will be a chance to push myself a little more using the skills I’ve gained from fall and winter terms. The next term will be a great challenge and an opportunity to show myself what more I can do.
5. Recover and conquer.
Give yourself a high-five for enjoying the break and thank yourself for being persistent and making it through this far. I’m already sad to think of leaving my dear spring break behind, but the time is up and other responsibilities are calling me. So I will put on my best self and conquer this last term of the year.
If you already had your spring break and are back at work, get yourself a cup of coffee, breathe, and give yourself a hug. Don’t neglect the other areas of your life that need your attention. Adjust yourself and schedule breaks, dinners, nap times, and exercise. Your mind and body crave your tender love and care.
And if all else fails, we academics know:
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