After such an eventful 2020, we deserve a real break from our professional and academic commitments. While we can not change what is external to us, we can implement small changes to care for our mental and physical health.
Here we suggest 5 ways to have a restful holiday break, regardless of if you will spend it alone or with loved ones:
1. Take a Full Break
Mark “holiday” on your calendar and commit to stop working. The working from home routine has blurred our personal and professional boundaries, and most of the year, we lacked socializing opportunities. These two events drove many people to bury themselves into academic and professional projects. This super-productive lifestyle occurred at the expense of minimal self-care.
Take these next two weeks as a conscious and concerted break from deadlines and work pressure. Make no committments. Epiphanies can occur during brain downtime, but there is no project more important than your health. If you do have a great insight to your work, jot it down on a piece of paper, but avoid using your computer. It is a strong temptation to start working.
2. Enjoyable Activities Boost Wellbeing
The absence of a big family and friends gathering does not mean you will have nothing to do. On the opposite, this holiday is an excellent opportunity to catch up on fun activities and hobbies that usually get postponed because you are too busy with other social committments. Engage in activities that give you pleasure or explore a new one: play music, draw, dance, or cook. If away from your relatives, set up an online call to get a cooking lesson from either your granny or mother, who will be delighted to pass on a family recipe.
3. Avoid Doing “Absolutely Nothing”
Doing nothing is essential to relax and calm a restless mind. Take some time to totally chill out. Watch movies - free blockbusters and documentaries on Concordia database - or favourite series, play video games, and read your novels. However, do so with caution. Prolonged hours indoors, binge-watching series can quickly drive you into a cabin-fever or sluggish state. Being a couch potato is unhealthy for your brain and physical well being, so make sure you balance your chill time with plenty of time spent outdoors, being active.
4. Take on a Personal Challenge
Commit to an outdoor fun activity for the holidays, and maybe even add a little challenge with friends or family. Getting active will help offset the negative impacts that our bodies have all felt these last few months, after spending long periods in front of our computers. If you happen to be spending the holidays in Quebec, take a walk through a “white” forest, or try something new like snowshoeing, ice skating or cross country skiing. Outdoors activities may even allow you to chat with a friend while keeping a safe distance. Try adopting a simple routine like daily meditation or walking in the park, dancing, yoga, tai-chi - whatever makes you happy and active.
5. Social Media Downtime
Phone and online calls keep us connected with loved ones and boost our sense of belonging during physical isolation. While social media is a space to connect, it is unfortunatly also a place where people compare their lives with friends and celebrities. Experts unveiled social media’s negative impact on self-esteem due to upward social comparison. We tend to compare our lives to other people's lavish lifestyle, and forget about all the good things we have in our lives.
We suggest taking some social media downtime to write a gratitude journal. Expert confirmed how being grateful helps people to have positive emotions, improve health and be more resilient in tough times. Udemy offers a free online course - to Concordians - on “Mental Health for Coping with Stress & Anxiety.” GradProSkills offers a workshop with experts sharing practical techniques and tips on Thriving during challenging times (GPWL97).
GradProSkills team wishes the Concordia graduate community a peaceful holiday season filled with life's simple pleasures. May you have a well-deserved, restful break. We look forward to welcoming you back in January, energized for 2021!