A photo of a woman sleeping for an article about relaxation during Christmas break.

5 Tips for Staying Relaxed Yet Productive This Christmas Break

Parts of December and January are primarily times of relaxation for college students, but too much of nothing for too long can also easily put you in a sluggish rut.
December 18, 2021
9 mins read

As the most wonderful time of the year starts to roll in, college students around the world are getting ready to say goodbye to their first semester. All the hard work and effort that was put into that dang GPA is finally paying off with a month-long Christmas break.

Unfortunately, not everyone is blessed with so much time off — at my school, athletes only have a week to see their family before they are shipped back off to campus for practice and training. In fact, tons of other students find themselves in the same predicament: Is this break really a “break?” Sure, academics are put on hold for a while. But as the burden of our own health insurance moves closer and closer, college students are starting to realize that Christmas break isn’t a dead stop for work; rather, it’s a launchpad to set them up for the upcoming semester, no matter how far away it may seem.

Personally, I have learned that college work can never completely cease, or else I’m at risk of falling way behind. During my cramped four-day Thanksgiving break, I spent a good amount of time with my friends and family by running around to make sure I hit every relationship bus stop. In hindsight, the short week felt rushed, and I didn’t get to truly bask in its glory. Once I got back to school, I was slightly behind on a good chunk of my work — in fact, I was even delayed on an article I had to write for an internship. Once I stepped foot on my college’s campus again, I felt my brain switch into work mode. I chopped out all of my responsibilities, but it wasn’t the most fun time. I kept asking myself, “What’s the best way to avoid this?” Well, folks, the answer may impede on the luxurious school breaks we were all hoping for.

1. Set Goals

Ah, yes, the dreaded category. Who else has seen “set goals for yourself” all over social media and the internet? While it may be a cliche, this task-oriented strategy is effective when it comes to staying disciplined and productive.

Before going on Christmas break, think about how you want to approach the new semester. Do you want more money in your pocket? Pick up a job during the break, or maybe take some tutorials on investing or trading. If the raggedy high school backpack needs a refresher, you can run to Staples and replace it. While you’re at it, swap out the other old things shoved in the depths of that run-down bag, too. Set a goal to — ironically enough — follow through on your goals. Crossing things off a list is gratifying and helps keep motivation up and running. It’s far too easy to slip into lazy habits during Christmas break, so creating aims should help keep students afloat.

2. Stay Active

If I’m constantly lounging around my room like a sack of potatoes, I know that I’m setting myself up for failure. Of course, taking time for yourself is a high priority; however, falling completely off the working mindset can make bouncing into a new semester pretty rough.

Staying active is a simple way to keep yourself disciplined and prepared for the work you’re going to get tossed back into in a month. A few ways to do this include setting a gym schedule, getting a gym membership, going on runs and starting an at-home workout routine. With YouTube, there are tons of free workout videos right at our fingertips. Scroll through, find a video that tickles your fancy and get moving! I find that a morning — or perhaps early afternoon — workout does the best job of setting me up for the day. It’s gratifying to get some exercise in early on, and taking a shower after working out is incomparable to regular showers. The shower floor can also be a place for a quick nap if you’re not a morning person, but make sure to set a timer.

Staying active doesn’t necessarily mean exercise, though; there are dozens of other ways to keep your brain and body moving. For example, pursue some hobbies like music or arts and crafts. Cleaning a bedroom is a surprisingly good task to undertake to boost your mood and prepare for the rest of your day. Help the family around the house, go on a walk, buy some Lego sets — whatever keeps the brain moving and grooving is a healthy way to keep up with commitment this winter break.

3. Prioritize Mental Health

While this all sounds glamorous on paper, it’s tricky to get things done successfully when your mental health is at an all-time low. College is stressful, to say the least, hence why we get such a long Christmas break.

If you’re struggling or feeling lost, reach out to a close friend. If that’s not feasible, go on a hunt for a therapist or another mental health professional. Students should figure out exactly what they need to feel healthy and work toward it. Nobody is alone in this battle, including me and you. Take this month to prioritize yourself and your health because without either, the spring semester won’t be easy.

4. Sleep

This one may seem rather obvious to some people — let’s be real, most people — but it’s important nonetheless. Catch up on sleep! I developed some pretty bad sleeping habits around Thanksgiving, so catching up on the z’s is massively important to preparing for another round of college.

If you find yourself going to bed too late, as childish as this sounds, try setting a bedtime. Fixed bedtimes can be tremendously helpful when trying to get back on a solid sleep schedule. And make sure to balance commitments during the break because without a sense of stability, a consistent and healthy sleep schedule will be very hard to maintain.

5. Make Personal Time

The last and perhaps most obvious tip: Have some freakin’ fun. Winter break may just be a transition to the spring semester as well as a deceptively relaxing time, but enjoy it while it lasts. If your entire break is made up of working and preparation, that’s not exactly ideal. For some, it may be, but I’m definitely someone that needs some downtime.

In the end, Christmas break is about doing what’s right for yourself. Everyone has different needs, so make sure to look within and see what needs to be done to roll into the spring happily. Above all, though, enjoy it. After all, it’s only a month.

Jake Sanders, Rhodes College

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Jacob Sanders

Rhodes College
English, Minors in Business and Education

I’m an aspiring educator and freelance writer. I appreciate soft-filled Airheads bites and informality.

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