I already have a dozen assignments written on my homework checklist. Clubs are asking for full-time commitments, professors are talking about planning the next two-and-a-half years, my first-day-of-school folders are crammed with an unorganized assortment of syllabuses, lazy notes, and extra print outs of homework assignments. I’m fairly sure the increasing weight of my backpack is a parallelism for the mounting stress in my brain, the unwavering and nerve wracking feeling of “I’m not doing any work, but I know there’s more to do” and “I have this class in ten minutes and I’m pretty sure there’s nothing due today”. But, while stress is a plenty good enough source of motivation, here’s a little reminder to myself and all of my fellow students: let’s not forget to “schedule in” our relaxation time.
It’s a bit ironic, certainly enough, the necessity of scheduling relaxation. But it’s always necessary. Even in the first week, even before the deadly test weeks strike, even if you’re only taking a dozen credits, even if you don’t think you’re working as hard as you could be, even if you feel like you don’t deserve a break: everyone deserves a break. For me, my productivity is directly proportional with my state of mental healthiness. I could continue for work through the wee hours of the morning, but I’d probably get the same amount of work done in an hour in the morning with a good night of sleep. Breaks aren’t a guilty pleasure or a waste of time.
Breaks don’t have to be long, either. Not everyone can quite afford to take an entire weekend off from work. Sometimes it feels like even an hour or two can’t be spared-- the hours in a day are finite, after all, and we all have places to be, people to meet, work to do, commitments to fulfill. But breaks can be reading a few pages out of the book you’re reading, or taking a walk by the creek. Breaks can be playing your favorite song while making another cup of coffee, or getting up and stretching for a few seconds. Breaks can be watching an entire Disney movie with your laptop on your lap so you can pretend that you were working the whole time, or taking a few deep breaths before starting on your next project.
If you’re that reluctant to leave your work, if you’re at the point where you’re counting every minute, I completely understand that. But breaks can be a break from your typical workplace, too. Breaks can be doing your homework in that nearby coffee shop. Breaks can be going to your closest library with your favorite play list and your biggest, most intimidating stack of work. Breaks can be taking your laptop out on the porch so you can work while feeling at least a little bit of sunshine. Breaks can be anything, anywhere.
Funnily enough, relaxing can be hard, especially if you’ve fallen out of the habit. But doing good work and relaxing aren’t black and white ultimatums. Before back-to-school stress kicks in too hard, just remember that it doesn’t hurt to enjoy yourself once in a while!