Winter break for college students is a whole month away from the constant stressors and obligations that dictate our semesters. It’s probably one of the most looked-forward to times of the year for students. But let’s be honest, what do we really do over winter break? I’d say the average college student’s daily routine on break looks a lot like this: waking up after sleeping in longer than they’ve been able to for months, eating a meal, relaxing for an hour (or 8), eating another meal, and then making plans with their friends for the night. We could probably justify full days, or even weeks, of relaxation after a semester straight of having a packed schedule. If we’re ever asked to help around the house over break (especially within the first 2 weeks), don’t even expect us to acknowledge the request. We’re home, and we’re going to justify being lazy for an entire month
Our parents and caregivers can do a lot to take care of us over the break, and truthfully, they’ll probably be happy to since they must have missed us so much. But we can do a lot to take care of our selves over this break too. I’ve made a list of ways we can all practice self-love for the month, and rejuvenate before tackling another semester in the spring.
I know, this one sounds easy. It’s probably something we’re all going to be doing quite a lot of. But I’m putting a twist on it. Going to bed at 3 am and sleeping until 1 pm is okay sometimes, but don’t do it every night. Don’t sleep your days away. Experiencing the sunlight, even if we’re stuck inside and it’s -10 degrees outside, has positive impacts on our bodies’ ability to regulate emotions. So at least a few times over the break, go to bed at a decent hour, and wake up with the sun. Have some coffee with your mom, who’s missed your presence in the house for the last 3 months. We all deserve to catch up on sleep, but don’t justify wasting your days in bed because of that.
2. Take advantage of home cooked meals
All year, we complain about the dining hall food, and think about how much we’d rather be eating a nice bowl of pasta from home. Ironically, over break, students come home and just end up eating out with their friends almost every night. Dinner dates with friends are fun. They’re actually necessary. But that doesn’t mean every night you should be rolling through McDonald’s drive thru asking for your regular combo and a McFlurry. Food is a form of medicine. Our bodies need some serious care this break, and fueling with some good quality, healthy meals will have us feeling better about ourselves in no time – no matter how hard the semester was. We have to go without home cooked meals all year, enjoy them while you can.
3. Choose your parents
I know. You haven’t seen your hometown friends in 3 months. They all go to college hundreds of miles away from you, and you just can’t wait to spend endless amounts of time with them reliving your high school memories. Guess what? Your parents haven’t spent much time with you the past 3 months either. They’ll understand that you want to see your friends and you have to hang out with them sometimes, but don’t make that every night. At least for a few of the nights over break, choose the dinner out and movie with your parents over sleeping at your friend’s house. It will mean more to them than you know, and you could probably benefit from some quality down time with them too.
4. Earn some money
Trust me, I’m not saying that we all should go out and start working 5 days a week during the one month we’re supposed to be off from having a busy schedule. This is supposed to be a time where we wake up most mornings and get to do things we actually want to do during the day, not things we have to do. Don’t get a Monday-Friday, 9-5 job. If you find something maybe 2 days a week, or the occasional weekend – take it. For some reason, it’s pretty easy to spend all of our summer earnings in the first month of the semester. Your parents probably tend to spot you some cash when they visit, but having some of your own money going in to the second semester will be more liberating than feeling dependent. A month is a long time to have zero obligations… having a small job a few days a week won’t kill us - it will keep us busy.
5. Visit relatives
This one should be pretty easy, considering you probably spend a good amount of time with family for the Holidays. But you should make it a point to go see your grandparents and other relatives during break before the Holidays. They’re all looking forward to hearing about your semester and having you around for a month, take advantage of your time off.
6. Stay active
Who really wants to go to the gym or for a run outside when it’s 30 degrees out? Not me. There are ways to get around this lull of motivation, though. Get a gym membership with your friends. My friends and I go to the gym almost every morning during the week over break, and we always say how much better our days are knowing that we’ve already worked out and having nothing more that we absolutely have to do that day. You don’t have to go every day, but if you’re used to working out during the semester and choose to just sit around for a month, your body won’t feel so great. Plus, we all eat one too many cookies during the Holidays – justify those cookies.
7. Plan ahead
I know, this is an article that’s supposed to be about de-stressing for a month and thinking about the future is probably the best way to do just the opposite. But think about how fast this past semester went. Sure, there were some weeks that dragged and felt longer than all of 2016 together, but over all it went pretty damn fast. In just a few short months, we’re going to be saying the same thing about how fast the spring semester went, and then we’ll have almost 4 months off. Use this time to create some opportunities for yourself for those 4 months. There’s nothing worse than coming home for the summer and listening to your parents’ constant reminders that you have to look for a summer job. Avoid that added stress at the end of the spring semester by seeking out an internship or job now – you won’t get it if you wait until the last minute anyways.
A lot of us have been waiting for Christmas break since the first day of classes in late August. Now that it’s here, take advantage of the time you have home. Make the most out of the next month, but don’t forget to relax and take care of yourself amidst all of the fun.