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This semester has been uncharacteristically hectic. Maybe it’s the fact that I’m in my last few semesters, and my classes are blowing full steam ahead until graduation. Or, maybe it’s because this was our first semester back to mostly in-person classes. Either way — I don’t think I have ever had as much school work as I have these past few months.

And I’m burned out. 

But now that the semester is over, we have the chance to recover from the burnout so many of us are feeling. We finally have time to give back to ourselves. Here are the top five ways I recommend to relax and refresh over this winter break.

Celebrate the holidays

I love the holiday season. It might be getting a little colder, but there’s something about the lights put up on the trees along the streets, hot chocolate by a fire while watching a Hallmark movie, and spending time with my family and friends that warms my heart. It seems like a season full of magic and is truly the only time of year I feel like a kid again. In fact, that’s what I recommend doing when you celebrate this year: do all the things you enjoyed when you were younger and had all the time in the world. Make a gingerbread house or some handmade ornaments. If you live in an area that snows, go outside and make snow angels, have a snowball fight, go sledding, or build a snowman. The fresh air will do you good, and the holiday spirit will boost your happiness.

The holidays are also a time to give back to one another. I find a lot of joy in shopping for or making gifts to give to my family and friends. Making other people happy will make you happy. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant gesture — just something you are able to do and know will bring them joy is always enough.

Reconnect with Family and Friends

It’s been a long time since we have been home. For a lot of us, school is a fair distance away from home, so it isn’t every day that we get to grab coffee with a friend who goes to a different school or hang out with a sibling we haven’t seen much in a few months. Especially in the last few weeks of the semester, classes are all we are focusing on. We mostly see people in our classes or in study groups, but we don’t really just hang out and have fun with them. Now that classes are done, we are able to make time to see people for fun. When people care about you like your family and friends do, you being around them does a lot to build you back up. Reconnecting with the people we care about is a great way to reestablish a positive mindset and focus on maintaining those beneficial relationships.

Travel

Winter break is a great opportunity to travel. Only coming second to summer break, this is the most time we get off during the year. Travelling doesn’t necessarily mean getting on a plane to spend a week somewhere warm — although if that is what you are doing this break, I hope you have the best time. Travelling could also be picking a place you’ve never been to that is an hour or two away and going to explore it. In whatever form, travelling is a good way to refresh because it allows you to make new memories that are outside of what you have been doing in school. You get to learn about a new place on your own and just exist somewhere new, which can be awfully exciting. 

Take Self-Care Days

This is called a break for a reason. Maybe you are so burned out that going out and doing something just seems like too much. That is completely valid. Take this time instead to spend some time with yourself. Do all the things you may not have had time for in a while. Take a long shower. Put on a facemask. Do your nails. Binge a television show. Think about the things that help you relax — the things that make you feel like you are taken care of. Then, take a full day, or an even hour, or something in between to actually do those things.

Sleep

If there is only one thing you take away from this list, please let it be how important sleep is. When we are at school, we are so used to the go, go, go lifestyle that we don’t always feel how physically exhausted we are until we go home. You’ve been working so hard and have probably sacrificed your sleep schedule at least once or twice this semester in order to get work done. We do what we have to do in order to make it through the final weeks of the semester. But the semester is done and you need to prioritize getting good, healthy and full sleep. 

I hope this list gave you some ideas of how to spend your time this break. You’ve been working really hard this semester and should be very proud of what you’ve accomplished. You deserve to take time for yourself, so you can recover from the burnout and come back fully refreshed for the spring semester.

Amanda Kraemer

Virginia Tech '23

Junior studying creative writing, professional and technical Writing, and English pre-education, with a language science minor. Adores reading books, listening to music, viewing art, and studying language. Also, an avid Disney lover, determined to see the magic in everything.
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