If your Thanksgiving break was anything like mine, you probably made your way to the fridge, overwhelmed with the amount of food fresh for the taking. You hunkered down on the couch in front of the TV or maybe turned to Netflix and binge-watched whatever Netflix suggested for you. You stayed up late and then slept in until you were too restless to flop around in your bed any longer, only to start your day of pursuing technology and comfort. Maybe you fell into the trap of video gaming until the wee hours of the morn, only taking breaks to refuel or use the facilities. You essentially did a lot of things that were relaxing, comforting, and fulfilling for a short time, but when those things lost their luster you moved on to the next thing. By the end of it, I felt like I was ready to get back to school but I was not fulfilled by my time off. I wished I could do it over again; I put off responsibilities to the very end and headed back to campus feeling dissatisfied.
Unfortunately, truly resting is a struggle for many of us. We are used to constant stimulation and entertainment, whether that’s through social media, Snapchat, texting, or any other ways we use technology to stay “busy.” If you don’t come into this longer break with somewhat of a game plan, your winter break could leave you feeling unfulfilled anxious rather than well rested.
How do we do this? I think it starts with recognizing the difference between true rest and being entertained. It is easy to find yourself seeking to be preoccupied when you get home. We probably have many things we look to to keep busy and entertained whether that is TV, movies, Netflix, shopping, eating, frequent naps, or browsing social media. Though they do not involve much effort or physical exertion, I would not say that these things make me feel rested and refreshed.
What I find truly restful is to unplug from the constant brain stimulation that I am so used to during school, and focus on being more present. I personally try to find rest during breaks in going for a walk or run outside, reflecting over the semester, reading my Bible, spending time in prayer over my life and for people in my life, or even going on a spontaneous adventure (your local grocery store can be an adventure). I think the key is to find things that are enriching to your life and leave you feeling more alive and refreshed which can look like a lot of different things for different people. Another way that I like to do this is by spending quality time with my friends and family, catching up on what has been going on in life, or doing something that goes beyond just “hanging out.” Winter break can be a great time to sort through the direction you are currently headed in life and to reflect on ways you have grown.
I am not trying to say that you shouldn’t watch movies, Netflix, or plop down and watch some TV at all over break. The new Star Wars movie is coming out and I will be all over that. However, I don’t think these things bring much refreshment or rest to my life and so it is important to devote time to doing the things that truly offer rest rather than vainly hoping to find that rest in binge watching “Orange is the New Black.”
May the Force be with you this finals week and over break.