It’s December! We did it! If you’re on the quarter system like me, then vacation has already started, and if you’re on semesters, then break is right around the corner. There are plenty of ways that you can spend your winter vacation. With your free time, you can learn a new skill, buff up your resume/CV, or volunteer at a local library. There’s nothing wrong with taking the time to brush up on your skills and further your opportunities for career advancement; however, I want to focus on ways to relax over vacation. Classes will be back before we know it, so I’m compiling ideas to unwind while classes are out.
Keep it Guilt-Free
Full disclosure: I sometimes feel guilty about taking a break from school or library-related activities, especially with the job hunt lurking in the near-future. This is a reminder for myself and for anyone else out there who feels guilt or anxiety over taking a break that’s it’s perfectly reasonable to forget about school for a few days. It’s good for your brain, and it’s probably good for your soul as well. Forget about the classes you’re taking next year or the internship you’re starting in January, at least for a couple of days. You’ve worked hard the last few months, so you deserve a little time to yourself. Take a minute and treat yourself!
Get Some Sleep
It’s hard to get a good night’s sleep when trying to cram classes, homework, jobs, internships, volunteer hours, familial responsibilities, and personal time into your day. It’s important to make sleep a priority on a day-to-day basis during the school year for both mental and physical health, but it’s not always that easy. With some of the added free time over winter vacation, considering getting in the sleep you need. You can’t catch up on lost sleep, so be wary of over-sleeping; however, you may form some better sleeping habits that carry you into the rest of your school year.
Pick up a New or Existing Hobby
Remember those hobbies you pushed aside during the school year? Take some time to do the things you love. For me, that means skiing every free moment I have. Winter break is a good time to start a new craft project (or continue an old one), enjoy the outdoors, or finish that epic, 18,000 piece puzzle you’ve been working on. Maybe you want to try something new now that you have the time. I’m excited to learn how to cross-stitch, while others may enjoy learning how to code or taking a painting class.
Have a Night with Family/Friends
Having a weekly night together with friends is a good way to have fun and catch up with one another. Many restaurants and bars in the area have a weekly trivia night. I’ve started attending trivia at a local pub with some of my classmates, and it’s always a good time no matter if we win or lose. Board game nights are also a great way to spend time with friends. You can browse lists of best board games, or go with your old favorites. You can also try group yoga classes, painting and wine nights, or host a Harry Potter week with friends and family.
Get in Some Leisure Reading
Chloe recently posted some tips and recommendations for leisure reading while in grad school. With classes out of session for winter break, you’ll hopefully have a bit more time to pick up a book you’ve been meaning to read. Vacation is a good time to revisit some old favorites (I just finished re-reading the Harry Potter series), or read something new.
Catch up on Shows
Wondering what all the Stranger Things hype is about? Feeling like a Friends re-watch? Log into your Netflix account and get started. There’s nothing wrong with making a bit of popcorn, putting on your favorite pair of sweatpants, and hunkering down for the winter on your couch. To help you out, here’s a list of titles arriving and leaving Netflix this December.
If you’re able, taking a vacation out of state or out of the country is a great way to wind down after long months in grad school. One of my classmates just visited Germany, another is in Hawaii, and others are visiting family out of state. You don’t have to leave your city to have a good time or explore something new. Visit museums and tourist destinations in your city. Try a new restaurant, or find a list of events happening nearby during break. It’s good to get out of the house on occasion to get some fresh air and indulge in your sense of adventure.
Remember Why You do it All
Winter vacation is a good time for self reflection. Think about where you are and how far you’ve come. We’re all pursuing graduate degrees for a reason. Consider break a good time for a seasonal recalibration.
Enjoy your time away from school. I hope everyone comes back refreshed in January!
How are you planning on spending winter vacation?
Cover photo: “Enjoying the sunset” by NPS.
Melissa DeWitt is an MLIS student at the University of Denver. You can find her on Twitter.
Editor’s note: This article was originally published on December 13, 2017.