December 23, 2017

Rest and Recovery From The College Semester

Mental Health & Wellbeing

The Extremes Of Semester Output and Intense Non-Restful Rest

Anyone in college knows what the end of a fall semester looks like: you’re studying all day and night, taking tests all the time, writing more papers than you have written in your entire high school experience, forgetting the last time you ate, slept, or showered in a normal human way, and you’re somehow finding the time to keep up your social life. If that isn’t enough, add the aspect of going to school in a major city.  Cities add multiple dynamics for the college students in terms of planning out transportation daily, financial stresses that come with a higher cost of living, and the overall constant noise and stimulation that an urban setting brings. By the time you are done with a semester in the city you are ready to crash on your highly coveted winter break!

Do you find it hard to slow down after the semester? Do you feel like you are not getting the rest you need? Are you still tired when you are heading back for your spring semester?

So many students have a hard time figuring out what healthy rest looks like. You might be tempted to go home and lay on the couch for two weeks straight, indulging in junk food, and binge watching your favorite TV shows. As wonderful as that sounds in the midst of a finals week, what if I told you that you could find healthier ways to rest that will allow you to be ready for school when it is time to go back? Instead of indulging in mindless activities, good rest comes through intentional slowing down and processing the information and experiences you have acquired from the semester.

Resting That Doesn’t Look Like Binge Watching TV

Here are my top ways to rest well over your winter break:

  1. Solitude: This will take some work if your mind and body are used to overdrive mood so be prepared for this rest to be a little uncomfortable at first. Try setting somewhere with little stimulation and just let your body sit. The goal is to do nothing. Leave your phone somewhere else, walk away from all people and let your mind rest. This will also be your gauge as to how fast your mind is going and you will be reassured that you need more rest over the break.
  2. Turn off your phone: This one is hard for many people. If you can dedicate a portion of everyday to turning off your phone, you will be less likely to find yourself over stimulated. If you go out with family why not let them bring their phone and you leave yours at home?
  3. A little exercise everyday: Every person needs exercise on a regular basis. Exercise will help your body release all the hormones that your body was filled with when you were stressed at school. For those who prefer less intense exercises, try going for a walk everyday or attend a couple yoga classes. Tip: if you go to a yoga studio for the first time you can often get a discounted rate for the first week, if not free.
  4. Accomplish one task a day: It is helpful to keep engage your mind everyday in order to process through and filter out all the information you received from the semester. Try to slowly work on one task a day. Try baking bread, attempting a new dinner recipe, or getting your oil changed as you single task for the day. While you are in school it is hard to find time for this types of activities so I’m sure you will feel accomplished when the day is over.
  5. Avoid multitasking: When you are in school it can feel inevitable that you need to multitask. The very nature of multi-tasking can be threatening to your nervous system and can cause a lot of stress. Try letting yourself do one thing at a time. An influential Buddhist Monk, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a story to explain mindfulness and he describes a man who is washing the dishes. He says, “If while washing the dishes, we think only of the cup of tea that awaits us, thus hurrying to get the dishes out of the way as if they were a nuisance, then we are not ‘washing the dishes to wash the dishes.’ What’s more, we are not alive during the time we are washing the dishes.” When you are on break, try to do one thing at a time without thinking about the next thing you are going to do.
  6. De-clutter your life: Do you ever look through your closet and think, “why do I still own this stuff?” Organizing our physical world can help us relieve stress and de-clutter our brains. Try it out and clean out your room or you car.
  7. Sleep 8-hours every night: Everyone says it… sleep is essential to proper recovery from a busy semester.

Getting Support To Feel Rested During Semester

Hoping you implement deep rest this break. If you’re back in Chicago and still feeling depleted once the new semester begins- give me a call or send me an email. We can make a personal plan for your physical, mental, and emotional health- so you can take on whatever life brings!

Written by therapist Keri Sawyer

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