The student news of St. Paul Academy and Summit School

[2 SIDES, 1 ISSUE] How to spend time away on breaks

December 13, 2021

Unscheduled time supports health

REST+UP.+Sleep+and+time+alone+can+help+students+recover+from+the+stress+induced+by+the+demands+on+time+when+school+and+activities+fill+each+day.

Salah Abdulkarim

REST UP. Sleep and time alone can help students recover from the stress induced by the demands on time when school and activities fill each day.

Over the upcoming Thanksgiving and Winter breaks, students should take time for themselves to relax and clear their minds. Longer breaks from school are especially important, according to Lifeworks, “In a 2017 study that was part of the “Solitude Project,” researchers discovered that those who actively choose to be alone experience stress relief and felt more relaxed when they were alone. However, while we may not always enjoy it, alone time can improve your mood and mental health, both for introverts and extroverts. ”
Especially in high school, students are constantly under a lot of stress and when given the opportunity to take a break, they should relax by themselves. According to Verywell Mind, “alone time also plays a pivotal role in mental health. Being around other people comes with rewards, but it also creates stress.” Time with family and friends can be a major part of the holiday, but taking advantage of unscheduled time alone should be too. By giving yourself alone time, you are essentially allowing your body and mind to recover from previous stress. Students will be able to return to school with more focus and even more motivation.
Parents especially are a major source of external stress, in a study by Frontiers in Psychology, “structured time could slow the development of self-directed control, since adults in such scenarios can provide external cues and reminders about what should happen, and when.” This further emphasizes the importance of unstructured alone time over the holidays, the pressures of family gatherings and events create unnecessary stress over a break meant for relaxation.

Being alone with your thoughts gives your brain a chance to wander, which can help you become more creative.”

— Forbes

Being in an undisturbed environment pushes one to explore personal passions without the influence of others. Forbes states that “being surrounded by people kills productivity. People perform better when they have a little privacy.” Alone time not only increases productivity, but also boosts creativity that is not used when around peers, similarly to artists who spend time undisturbed in nature to come up with ideas. “Being alone with your thoughts gives your brain a chance to wander, which can help you become more creative.”
Longer breaks should be taken advantage of as in high school, students get their hard earned Winter break right after finals which is extremely stressful for everyone. It is best to get some peace and quiet after major tests as most students stay up losing sleep to prepare for such tests. The constant stress from school decreases efficiency while learning or doing homework and makes one’s overall performance during the day worse. Methods of self care can be like getting more sleep, eating healthier, so anything that improves one’s mood which differs for each person. Other human interactions like with friends and family can bring happiness but according to THINK, certain traditions and environments around family can cause traumatic memories to resurface. “Everyone has a limit to how much time they can spend with family, and it’s important to know your boundaries. You can’t say yes to every family request and expect to survive the season,” Merson [said].”

This story was originally published in the November 2021 issue of The Rubicon. 

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Use time to socialize and reconnect

MOVIE NIGHT. Breaks provide more free time to spend time with friends and family. Doing a fun activity can help students de-compress and have a good time.

Salah Abdulkarim

MOVIE NIGHT. Breaks provide more free time to spend time with friends and family. Doing a fun activity can help students de-compress and have a good time.

During school, students rarely have time to spend any time with their family and friends which is why long breaks are a perfect time to add social events to the calendar. While it is important for students to take time to themselves to relax after feeling overwhelmed during school, students shouldn’t isolate themselves the entire time or connect virtually without limits.
Studies from Carnegie Mellon University prove that spending time with family and friends helps reduce stress instead of using negative or unhealthy coping mechanisms. This can also lead to forming a stronger bond between loved ones. According to Piedmont, “One study found that people who view their friends and families as supportive reported a greater sense of meaning in life and felt like they had a stronger sense of purpose.”

One study found that people who view their friends and families as supportive reported a greater sense of meaning in life and felt like they had a stronger sense of purpose.”

— Piedmont

Spending time with family and friends can also increase meaningful memories and can bring happiness, which is important for students’ mental health. Spending time with friends and families is one of the best ways to create memorable experiences and can help form meaningful relationships. Forming meaningful relationships can benefit social skills which are essential for school and overall for the future. Nathan Hudson, who is an assistant professor of psychology at Southern Methodist University found that emotion is often associated with the people around you. Although there are some family members and even friends who show toxic behavior and can bring one sadness, it is important that people try to fill their surroundings with people who genuinely bring them happiness. Spending time with family and friends can also be beneficial, not only during long breaks but also during the weekends because it gives one something to look forward to after a long week of school, homework, sports, jobs, etc. Making plans with family members and friends can make great use for the weekend rather than spending countless hours on social media. However, it can be difficult to make plans with friends and families during the weekend because of homework, jobs, sports, etc. but one can also spend time with family and friends during the week like for example, having dinner time with family and getting into the practice of studying with friends which has both academic and mental health benefits. Spending time with family by having dinner multiple times a week is a great opportunity to catch up on life and can create new memories.
Some good ways to spend time with family and friends are to have dinner together, play sports that are enjoyable for everyone, and watch movies together.

This story was originally published in the November 2021 issue of The Rubicon.

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