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Your professors, advisors, or parents might be expecting you to spend your spring break doing work and catching up on all your responsibilities — academic, personal, and professional. The people pleaser in you might be planning to work on homework, pick up a few more shifts at work, and do everything that other people expect you to do, regardless of the rest you might need. 

Girlies, write this down. You have the right to be unproductive on your spring break. 

Spring break has the word break in it for a reason. You’re supposed to rest, rejuvenate, and gain enough strength to take on the rest of the semester. Students are allowed to set aside their schoolwork as well as their on campus lifestyle and devote this time to self-care

Now, I know there are stingy professors who thrive on giving students work over spring break, so you might have an assignment or two to work on over break. However, you do not need to find your summer internship, deep clean your room, or make tons of plans with your friends this week. If you recognize that your body emotionally and physically needs you to shut down, watch some Netflix, and not leave your bed for five days, that is completely valid and honestly, I’m right there with you. 

Society often encourages women to use any and all free time to be productive.

All too often, self-help books and articles motivate their readers to associate feeling good about themselves with a constant high level of productivity. Apparently, success = no breaks. This idea to always keep hustling often encourages women to race to the top because once they get there, they’ll supposedly finally feel successful. The same intention is thrust on college women and BIPOC female students specifically. It’s as if society puts women into these three categories of life: student, employee, or mother. And if we’re not constantly working to better ourselves in each of these categories, we’re not succeeding as humans. 

Having free time should not be considered a luxury; it should be a common occurrence. The Washington Post says that having too much or too little free time can be harmful, which is true, but what’s the healthy amount? Students can only understand how much rest they personally need when they’re given the opportunity to rest. 

The student lifestyle is not an easy one. You’re either in class, trying to maintain a healthy eating schedule, working on internship requirements, finding a job, or trying to make connections, while also keeping your off-campus relationships steady. Let’s be honest, free time in college really isn’t free time. So, when colleges designate an entire week for students to escape any and all responsibilities, who’s to tell students that they shouldn’t embrace spring break and relax?

Setting aside time to do nothing is just as important as making time for work.

As students, we are more easily susceptible to burnout, academically and personally. A study from Healthline reports that in April 2021, student burnout at Ohio State University was at 71%, an increase from 40% in August 2020. If you’re struggling to prioritize rest this spring break, I totally understand. It’s difficult to feel that we’re worthy of rejuvenation, especially after a busy year of what seems to be constant productivity.

During COVID, we missed out on so much that now we feel we have to play catch-up and try to make up for lost time. Whether you’re trying to hang out with friends more, or you’re applying to job applications because you feel behind, you may feel as though you simply don’t have time for a break. The easy part is realizing that you need a break. The difficult part is putting in an effort to prioritize that necessary rest. Luckily, doing so pays off: A 2017 study conducted by the University of Buffalo found that people who spend more time alone in a restful environment were able to better express more productive examples of creativity. 

Think about your favorite thing to do while you’re sick. When you’re sick, the doctor says, “You need to rest.” Well bestie, I’m your spring break doctor and I’m writing you a prescription for five days of uninterrupted and, most importantly, unproductive relaxation time. If that’s catching up on neglected sleep, watching the latest Netflix series, enjoying a little bit of literary smut, or digesting a few TikTok trends, you should feel free to experience your break however your body needs you to.

Don’t feel guilty for resting for seven days out of 365.

I know your friends might be using this time to pick up a few extra shifts at work, or to update their resume, but not every second of your life has to revolve around productivity. You might be feeling guilty for recognizing your own needs. I get it. However, if you’re feeling guilty, think about what it’s like in the real world — away from college campuses, away from toxic dining hall food and needy professors. Employees most likely have paid vacation time that they’re encouraged to use when they need it. Some companies even have paid mental health days. Try to think of your spring break as paid vacation time (even though, technically, you’re paying them). Your school is giving you time to devote to yourself. 

If you want to be an unproductive slug for one week out of a year, you have the right to do that. Sometimes those eight hours of sleep every night just aren’t enough, and you might need more time to prepare yourself for the rest of the semester. Professors often say the second half of spring semester is the worst, so prepare yourself for it. Gain a few extra hours of rest, because you know once you’re back on campus, you might become overwhelmed very quickly. 

Contrary to popular belief, rest can be a form of productivity.

To make the transition to unproductive positive thinking, view your rest as a version of productivity. You’re putting energy into yourself and your break. You’re setting your own standards for productivity and ignoring the sexist expectations set by a professional lifestyle. Getting up in the morning, brushing your teeth, digesting entertaining media, and mindlessly flipping through a magazine are all forms of productivity. You’re actively doing things to better yourself and your personal experiences. You do not have to associate productivity with getting a new job or working ahead on all your assignments.

Productivity can only be effective if your mind and body receive enough rest. In a 2018 study done by the American Psychological Association, 68% of Americans reported positive effects of vacation time and said they return to work with more motivation, a positive attitude, and even a more energized outlook. 

This spring break, I challenge you to do nothing. Embrace your inner sleeping beauty and let your body emotionally and physically recover from what I can imagine has been an incredibly productive year. Log out of Canvas, Google, and LinkedIn, and focus on being unproductive. Being productive is overrated anyway.

Meguire Hennes is a Her Campus Editorial Intern and a senior at Montclair State University. She is majoring in Fashion Studies. Meguire is excited to share her knowledge of pop culture, music, today's fashion and beauty trends, self love/mental health, astrology, and musical theatre. When not writing or in class, Meguire can be found living her best Carrie Bradshaw life in NYC, singing 70s/80s classic rock a little too loud in the shower, or watching her favorite rom-coms over and over again. Coming from a small town in Wisconsin, she's excited to see what adventures await her in the big city!