The first semester of the school year has just ended (phew!) and winter break has finally arrived. Most of you are probably ready to kick back and enjoy this short respite, especially after a hectic semester. However, there are definitely some of us who are considering taking up or continuing with additional commitments, such as working or doing an internship. Should you subscribe to hustle culture and continue working hard during the holidays, or take a well-deserved break? In this article, we will provide you with practical, unfiltered advice that will hopefully help guide your decision, or re-think your plans (if you have already committed to something). Read on!
1. Consider your motivations
Many of us in university have fallen prey to the demanding expectations of hustle culture. We seek to continuously load ourselves with extracurriculars and commitments, in an effort to remain competitive in this rat race amongst peers. As a result, many of us end up overloading, resulting in too many commitments that we are unable to properly see through. Some of us even burn out, and our mental health suffers. We implore you not to do this (at all, or anymore). Consider what your underlying motivations are, before hastily taking up a new opportunity that will eat up large amounts of your time.
If you are looking to take up a job or internship – is it because you need some income, or are you simply hoping to ‘do something productive’ during your holiday? It is alright to want to spend your time productively, especially if you are able to manage it well, and reserve sufficient time to still take breaks and enjoy your holidays properly. However, if you are seeking work just because your peers are doing so, or due to your fear of falling behind, perhaps it is time to reconsider these intentions.
While it is perfectly normal to feel afraid of lagging behind, especially in terms of earning that extra money, or enriching your portfolio for future job competitiveness, ask yourself whether this break is a good time to do so. In the grand scheme of things, would it hurt to give yourself a break, and devote this time to other things (such as enjoying time with your loved ones) instead? If your motivations do not align with your true needs and wants, you might want to reconsider them, and perhaps discuss them with others too!
2. Reflect on your mental health
Think back to how your previous semester was like. Was it absolutely hectic, or emotionally draining? It is easy to forget how tiring the past few months were, especially if you have successfully overcome the obstacles and hardships that were thrown your way. However, the earlier you might have been desperately clinging onto the prospect of relaxing and enjoying time during the December holidays, in order to push through the semester. Now that the moment has finally arrived, it might be high time to give yourself that well-deserved break, especially if you have pushed yourself tirelessly the past few months.
Source: Love This Pic
Your body needs some rest too, even if you feel like you should be doing more. Studies have shown that chronic stress could weaken your immune system, leading to sickness and disease (source). Meanwhile, rest can boost creativity and even productivity (source), which is more useful for you, and the activities you wish to complete in the long run. Resting could mean more than just sleeping or lazing around (although those things are perfectly fine too!). It could also mean doing low-energy activities that you enjoy, such as watching movies, reading books, or going for slow walks. According to physician Saundra Dalton-Smith, there are seven types of rest that we should engage in to recharge. Refer to the diagram below for ideas on the types of rest you could consider applying to your own life these holidays!
3. Weigh the pros and cons
In consideration of the relatively short duration of this winter break, is it truly worth packing your time with a short-lived stint? Needless to say, weighing the pros and cons when making such decisions would probably come naturally to most of you. However, we ask that you think through the positive and negative aspects of your decision in detail. List them out if you must.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of things to consider:
- How many commitments are you taking up during the holidays?
- How much do you treasure this opportunity?
- How long will this commitment last for? If it extends into your school term, are you prepared to balance school with this commitment? (Think about the modules that you plan to take when considering this)
- Do you have other obligations/commitments that require your time and energy? Do they clash?
- How much do you treasure alone time, and rest time?
- Are there other ways in which you can pursue similar endeavours? Is there another/better time when you can take up such an opportunity?
- What are the things that you planned to/really wished to do during the break (is your to-read and to-watch list becoming endlessly long 😉)? Would you still have time left to do these things, and will you regret it if you don’t manage to?
4. Discuss your considerations with people who care about you
Talk to the people around you who care – those who will give you proper, sincere, and balanced advice. It is easy to get blindsided, or get affected by certain biases that will skew your decision-making process. Having a second, even third opinion is almost always advisable, especially if you are trying to decide soon. Indeed, it is not advisable to simply go with the flow, and follow what your peers say to do (recall point 1!), but family and close friends can almost always be trusted to give recommendations with your best interests in heart.
Ultimately, you are the only one who can decide how you want to spend your holidays. Five weeks might not seem like a long time, but it is an adequate amount of time for you to accomplish something – such as rejuvenating your mental and physical health, or perhaps learning a new skill. Take some time to properly think about what your goals are for this winter break, so that you can enjoy it to the fullest. That way, you can return to school satisfied, refreshed, and ready to brave a new semester! After reading this article, what are your plans for the break? Do share them with us on Instagram by tagging us @nusresidentiallife – we would love to hear about it.