Written by therapist Melissa Del Carmen

For all the students out there, you’ve made it through the semester! It’s finally winter break! For some of you, winter break might be a time that’s filled with holiday celebrations, family time, and catching up with old friends. I’m sure you are excited to not have to wake up for your morning classes and to have some days of no homework or exam prep. Winter break is definitely a well deserved break for you. While you are on your break, I want to encourage you to actually rest while you have this time off from the busyness of your regular school schedule. 

Signs that a Break is Needed

Throughout the semester, have you had moments of wanting to take a break but just had to push through the academic demands of the school year? Culturally, we have normalized unrest and continue to run the “rat race” until we have used every ounce of energy we can offer. When rest is not prioritized, burnout can potentially occur. Burnout is a type of emotional, physical and mental exhaustion that is caused by prolonged stress. Here are some signs that a break is much needed:

  • You often feel overwhelmed, stressed, worried, or anxious
  • You often feel tired and/or fatigued
  • You tend to get irritable or are often in a bad mood
  • You have trouble concentrating and difficulty remembering information 
  • You experience physical pains (bodily pains; headaches; stomach aches)
  • You have trouble sleeping or maybe deal with insomnia or disturbed sleep

7 Types of Rest

Now that we know that rest is needed, let’s talk about the different types of rest there are. Dr Saundra Dalton-Smith MD is a researcher and the author of, “Sacred Rest: Recover Your Life, Renew Your Energy, Restore Your Sanity.” Dr. Dalton-Smith has identified the following types of rest:

Physical Rest: When you are in need of physical rest, you can have passive physical rest such as sleeping and napping. You can also have active physical rest through restorative activities like yoga and stretching. 

Mental Rest: When you are in need of mental rest, you can schedule short breaks that happen throughout your day. Take time to slow down during these breaks, process how you’re feeling, and ground yourself by using mindfulness exercises. 

Sensory Rest: When you are in need of sensory rest, close your eyes for a minute or so and give your senses a break from the screens, bright lights, and background noises. Intentional moments of sensory rest can help with overwhelming feelings of over-stimulation.

Creative Rest: When you are in need of creative rest, take a moment to take in the beauty of the outdoors. You can also enjoy and feel inspired by different mediums of art. 

Emotional Rest: When you are in need of emotional rest, usually when you have been at a spot of consistently supporting and people pleasing others, try to create a space for yourself where you can freely express your emotions and prioritize your needs. 

Social Rest: When you are in need of social rest, try to surround yourself with trusted and supportive people. Think through and identify the relationships that revive you and those that exhaust you. 

Spiritual Rest: When you are in need of spiritual rest, try to engage in something that is greater than yourself, meditate, or get involved in your community. 

Other Ways to Find Intentional Rest

Sleep Hygiene

Are you hoping to catch up on sleep on all those late hours studying and cramming? During this break is a great time to re-establish a sleep schedule that works for you. Consider setting a consistent schedule to fall asleep that allows you to get at least 8 hours of solid sleep. 

Making Time for Free Time 

During the school year, your time might have been strategically scheduled and planned. Whether your schedule was filled with classes, work, extracurricular activities, or your personal life, it is very easy to get used to the busyness of having every minute filled. During this break, it might feel like a difficult adjustment to have so much free time. You might be wondering how to balance relaxing and also not “wasting” the break. 

If this resonates with you, making a general plan or list of things you would like to do over the break may be a helpful way to keep some structure. You can even plan times of rest!

Mental Health Apps

For those who like to incorporate using apps into their daily routine, there are a couple of helpful apps that encourage its users to have regular check-ins with themselves or engage in a calming breath. A couple apps to consider are BellyBio, Take a Break!, Moodfit and the Calm app.

Our batteries need recharging. We, like all humans, need times of rest to ensure that we can do the things we hope to do and be with others the way we want to. We have to realize that in the long run, it is not sustainable to keep pushing forward until we reach burn out. We can plan for intentional rest and live a better balanced life.

If you’re wanting to process how your school year has gone or are interested in planning how you’ll find rest and restoration during your winter break, please reach out to myself or one of the therapists here at Optimum Joy today!

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