As the year draws to an end, I want you to close your eyes and envision what your winter break will look like. Perhaps you’re picturing yourself binging movies beneath a layer of comfy blankets, or maybe you’re thinking about how you’re going to finish reading the book that you’ve been putting off for the past few weeks. Whatever you’re imagining, it should be a scene of relaxation and relief; winter breaks are supposed to be an escape from stress, after all. Yet, what once was a respite for students has gradually turned into a period of exhaustion, with study sessions, cram school, and even part-time jobs filling up the gaps in schedules. There are a number of reasons why these hectic plans should be avoided, but the main ones boil down to:

  1. A hectic winter break will lead to burn-outs
  2. A hectic winter break will reap you of time that should be spent with your loved ones

Notice, however, that the word “hectic” was used above. I’m not trying to discourage you from working during the break; I’m simply emphasizing the importance of letting loose!

1. A hectic winter break will lead to burn-outs

Every year, there is a myriad of students who choose to spend their breaks volunteering, working on culminating projects, or studying for exams. They view the break solely as an opportunity to tackle schoolwork and get involved, and while that is a very productive mindset, their plans to reach ahead will only lead them to utter exhaustion. In fact, if you think about it, these students are essentially forcing themselves to work from September (or August) all the way until March (possibly even July) without rest. This constant, forced overexertion is detrimental to the human body, and it is the source of “burnouts,” states of mental and physical collapse plagued by feelings of fatigue, detachment, hopelessness, and even pain. Those who are “burnt out” often find it difficult to get through school because of these symptoms, and unfortunately, many of their extra efforts to study become futile.

Rather than venturing down this road to exhaustion, try dedicating at least half of the winter break to getting some rest. You could take it easy for one out of the two weeks of the break, or you could choose to relax every other day; the course of your schedule is completely up to you.

Just remember that while it’s important to stay productive, you need to take some time off for yourself, lest you turn into a worn-out machine, chipping away from enervation.

2. A hectic winter break will reap you of time that should be spent with your loved ones

Whether it be Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Christmas, or any other holiday that you may celebrate, the winter break is a time filled with festivities from across the globe. These special occasions only appear once every year, and because of this, you should really make the most out of them and enjoy them while they last. However, that can’t happen if you spend your days working, so it’s essential that you take some time off and cherish these wonderful moments with the people around you. Watch a movie with your family, get in a call with your friends, bake some gingerbread cookies; do whatever you can to get into the festive spirit and show your loved ones that you care about them.

At the end of the day, we’re all humans, and every human needs social interaction.

Because it’s so important to spare some time for these festive events, you should try to craft your winter schedule so that the majority of your “break” days fall on celebrated holidays. For instance, if you’re a fan of Christmas, and you know that you’re going to spend a whole week working and a whole week relaxing, make sure that the one week of relaxation falls on the first half of the break so that you can rest easy during Christmas. On the other hand, if you choose to spend every other day relaxing, try to plan out your “break” days so that one of them falls on Christmas. The same idea applies to other holidays as well; schedule your time in a way that allows you to rest on those special days of celebration.

No matter how tempting it can be for you to spend your winter break working, just remember that you’re not a robot; you’re a living, breathing human being who can feel the burdens of exhaustion and isolation. Don’t trade your health and happiness for a bit of extra study time; live in the moment and make the most out of this precious relief from stress.

You owe it to yourself.

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