When I graduated from college in 2015, I remember that one of my first thoughts was I’ll never have a summer break again. When you’ve been a student for nearly the first 22 years of your life, transitioning to working full-time year-round can be kind of daunting. Why is it that all the things that add up to the challenge of adulting only manage to reveal themselves as they require head-on confrontation? Three years into post-grad living, I’m learning that that’s life. It just keeps on coming. Then you think, Alright. Here we go. Another challenge to surmount. And then you do it.
But what happens when you get tired?
We may not think so when we’re in it, but school is generous. Schools give us a whole season to occupy our brains with other things, plus a week around the holidays and another week in the “spring” when it seems like winter will never end. Work isn’t like that. Instead of holding out for those long periods of reprieve, you need to shift towards holding out for the weekend (if you’re lucky enough to even have one of those!). In many ways, that routine is more challenging. If you’re not really taking the time to take care of yourself, lots of little breaks do not quite make up for those sporadic big ones that we’re used to from school.
That’s what happened to me. And continues to happen, over and over. I pack my weekends full of things that are supposed to bring me joy and be fun, but I just go back to work on Monday feeling more tired than I was on Friday. More often, I’m sitting in my house on Sunday night on the verge of exhaustion tears and wishing that I had 4 more days to recuperate.
Life doesn’t always give us a big old summer break, or even a 10-day winter break. So we have to learn how to really relax with what time we do have.
I’ll be honest with you, this blog is as much for me as it is for you. My college recently had its fall break, in which students get an extra Monday and Tuesday off in the middle of October. My hometown was only 2 hours from college, so I’d go home every fall break and it was my absolute favorite time because I’d always go apple picking and cider tasting and see friends. Just hearing that the students were able to do that a few weeks ago made me pretty jealous.
Why a Break Feels Different Than a Weekend
If I’m jealous of the students who may or may not be living out some of my favorite memories, why don’t I just go apple picking and cider tasting on a regular Saturday? I could do that, yes, and it would make me feel better. But I think what it comes down to is the mindset. A break is something really special, something you mark on your calendar and look forward to for weeks. A weekend, while still appreciated, is just not quite the same.
The secret to relaxing without all those built-in school breaks: treat your weekends like a special occasion.
You’ve got to work with what you have instead of longing for something that’s just not a part of your life anymore. If there’s something you want to do one weekend, schedule it a few weeks out so you have time to look forward to it. For people like me who really need quiet time to recharge, don’t jam your weekends full of fun activities on top of the errands you probably have to run. Make sure that you have some time to do something that completely takes your mind off of your everyday life. Lately, I’m dreaming of finding the perfect coffee shop to sit in and read so I can meet my goal for the month. I dream about just sitting quietly, letting time pass by slowly.
I know other people will give you magical life hacks for relaxation (turn off your lights this many minutes before sleep, repeat this mantra, diffuse this scent), and these tips will work for some people. Everyone has their rituals for relaxation, but they’re so individual that I couldn’t begin to tell you what you should do. I think that the most universal key to relaxation is being aware of your mindset and really appreciating the time you have. If you don’t have any breaks coming up, reject that mindset and say, “Yes I do!” You have this Saturday, or tomorrow evening, or an hour in the afternoon a few days from now. Make your breaks, don’t wait for them to be given to you.