We hope you’ve had a great break! Whether you relaxed by a fire, found your way into the heart of a small animal or scurried your way to Bates for brunch, we hope that you found joy this break.
In many of Active Minds’ conversations about self-care, stress management and transitioning to college life, participants often mention how important taking a break can be. It’s one of the tips we learn at Mental Health Educator training, and one of the tips on the stress management handouts we had at the Thanksgiving Break movie night. It’s advice that many professors and tutors give, too.
Taking a break from studying, arguing, spending all of the time with a significant other and even taking a break from taking a break, for example using social media can be helpful for some people. A few things we brainstormed included that taking a break can help some people gain perspective, come back to a project with more clarity and creativity and feel more in control of their day and schedule.
Aside from college breaks from classes, like last week, our campus offers many opportunities to take breaks. From lunchtime meditations with Dean Steinwert in Lulu, which was also part of Love Your Body Week, to fitness classes and greenhouse talks, there’s often something small and structured for us to take advantage of.
But, what if we didn’t think about these activities as “breaks”? What if doing something we enjoy wasn’t just “a study break,” but was simply doing something we enjoy? While doing something fun, calming or rejuvenating can serve to help with homework, some people find it nice to not think about their life as revolving around studying. But, however you think about taking breaks, many of our campus resources agree that they’re a good thing.
We also acknowledge that taking a break isn’t always possible for everyone. And sometimes being told to “just relax” or “just give it a rest, already” can do more harm than good. For people struggling with mental health concerns or major life changes, taking a break is not always enough, just like what we wrote in the previous self-care column. People who are struggling often are not struggling just because they “don’t know how to take a break” or “can’t take care of themselves.” Often, mental health is not a matter of simply having “mixed-up priorities,” and thinking about it as such is one way that some mental illnesses are stigmatized. As always, empower the people around you to feel like they could take a break if they want to–, without forcing them to.
For more information on different stress management tips from the Stone Center and Honor Code Council, come to the Honor Code Council and Active Minds’ conversation on the Nov. 30, in the Munger formal living room!
Stone Center: 781-283-2839
As always email any questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org