Take Time to Relax

I don’t do any homework on Saturdays. From the time the sun sets on Friday until Saturday night, my computer is off, my phone stays in my room, and I don’t pick up a pencil. I won’t see any texts or emails you send me. My reasons are partly because of my religion, partly for mental health, and mostly, using my religion as a way of justifying taking the break I know that I need.

This seems crazy to most college students, since we’re so used to working around the clock, barely stopping to eat or sleep. We forget that we could work more efficiently, if only we recharged every once in a while. I’ve been there.

I didn’t grow up this way. While I practiced a lot of Jewish observances, my family didn’t take part in this specific one. It wasn’t until I came to college that I realized that it was okay to rest. First semester freshman year I burned myself out over and over again. I would return from Shabbat dinner on Friday night and immediately begin working on a problem set. When I felt like I couldn’t get all of my reading done, I would set an early alarm, wake up, and spend a few hours in Merrill before breakfast. I noticed that my perpetual exhaustion caused me to work slower and pull even more late nights and early mornings. It was a vicious cycle, and something many Amherst students have in common.

Second semester, I committed myself to taking Saturdays off, and something magical happened. My courses didn’t get easier, but I found myself going to bed by 11:30 every night and no longer needing early morning study sessions. My grades were good and stress was minimal. I knew there was no going back.

Now my Friday nights are for running from Hillel to Chabad and spending time with friends without worrying about what else I should be doing. My Saturdays are for sleeping a little later, connecting with people without the barrier of technology, and reading for fun. Saturday nights I’m back in the library, well rested and able to complete my homework relatively quickly. My weekends feel longer now, and I feel like each week is a new start rather than the continuation of a never-ending cycle of stress and exhaustion.

With everything going on in our country this week and the tremendous amount of stress that everyone is under, we could all stand to unplug for a few hours and take time to take care of ourselves and truly connect with each other in person. Don’t be afraid to give yourself a mental break every once in a while. The benefits of resting far outweigh the costs of missing a few hours of study time.