Preparing for the end of the semester can feel stressful and make it challenging to relax over fall break. However, fall break can serve as a time to recharge, catch up or prepare for the upcoming busy season. You can find the right balance between getting things done and energizing yourself to be in the best position to finish the end of the semester strong. Here are some self-care tips that can help you reset over break.
Treat rest as a right, not a reward
You do not need to earn the right to rest, connect or have fun. Practicing self-care often means we must unlearn the idea that we have to complete all tasks before we sit down and relax. The truth is, you will never really finish your to-do list. There will always be something else to do tomorrow, next week or next year.
Over break, give yourself unconditional permission to rest. Make time to do more of what you love or engage more fully in what you’re already doing that you love. It can be helpful to jot down some ideas of things that feel mentally, physically or spiritually rewarding. Consider things like reading a good book, going for walks, spending time with friends you haven’t seen in a while, crafting or exploring new hobbies. Spend this season paying attention to the things you genuinely enjoy doing and make time to do them.
Set realistic expectations
You may feel pressure to accomplished things over break while you have time away from your normal school or work responsibilities. However, rest or time with family may take priority. It can be particularly important to set realistic expectations for yourself if you are feeling stressed out, navigating complex family dynamics or preparing for the holidays.
Here are a few healthy reminders:
My to-do list is here to serve me. Prioritizing and scheduling tasks is supposed to make your life easier, not more difficult or stressful. Remind yourself that to-do lists don’t need to be a looming reminder of what you still haven’t completed. Instead, try to think of how your to-do list can serve you. For instance, it may remove the burden of having to remember all of your upcoming tasks, or it may help you preserve energy when determining your priorities.
I can walk away and come back later. Sometimes, it may feel like you have to complete every single task or project in one shot. Give yourself permission to walk away and come back later. This can help improve your motivation and mental health. Take a break, practice self-care and come back to it at a later time after you’ve had a chance to recenter yourself.
Feelings are temporary. How you’re feeling today won’t be how you feel forever. Remind yourself that emotions are temporary. Whatever you’re experiencing in this exact moment is unlikely to determine the rest of your life, even if it feels that way right now. Instead of focusing all your energy on your current circumstances, try imagining how you might feel seven days from now, seven months from now and seven years from now. More likely than not, as time passes, certain things won’t seem as dire.
Focus on 15-minute wins
Sometimes, when we feel overwhelmed, it can be hard to start even the simplest of tasks. If this sounds familiar, try challenging yourself to begin with 15 minutes to see what you can get done in a more manageable way. This technique lends itself well to work, life and care tasks.
Here’s how to get started:
Pick a single task. Pick any task, large or small. This can include things like cleaning out your email inbox, partaking in physical activity, packing for a trip, sorting mail, paying a bill, doing the dishes, finally returning that impulse Amazon purchase or anything else you can think of.
Start the clock. Set your timer for 15 minutes. This will give you enough time to make progress without derailing your entire schedule for the day. You can use a kitchen timer, stopwatch or your phone.
Allow for resistance. Often, when people feel resistance to a task, they immediately stop, quit, procrastinate or distract themselves with other things (hello, social media). Because of this, feelings of resistance often become an excuse not to take action on a task. However, if you can allow yourself to feel discomfort but still do the task for the allotted time, you’ll be able to make meaningful progress toward any goal. This is the foundation work of cultivating grit—the ability to persevere through long-term goals.
Challenge yourself. Turn tasks and deadlines into a game with yourself. Can you complete something in less than 15 minutes? Can you complete a task in less time than it took you previously? Can you make it fun?
Change the narrative
You might not realize it, but you talk to yourself all the time. The narrative we choose to use when we engage in self-talk can play a critical role in helping or hindering us.
For example, imagine that you’re trying to work up the motivation to finish an assignment or tidy up your space. You may say something like, “Ugh, I should really start on those dishes soon.” This type of self-talk can increase stress and create unnecessary pressure to complete a given task.
Instead, try changing the narrative to take a gentler approach. For this example, you could say something like, “It would be such a great kindness to my future self if I loaded the dishwasher now so that I don’t have to do it later.”
Changing the tone you use toward yourself can help you practice self-compassion, which can be especially beneficial when you’re trying to work through stressful situations, demanding tasks or feelings of burnout. Keep in mind that this isn’t a foolproof formula. Changing the way you speak to yourself might not always make you jump into action, but it can help you be kinder to yourself in the process.
Students, faculty and staff have access to a variety of self-care resources, including:
AcademicLiveCare is a telehealth platform that allows students, faculty and staff to schedule and attend medical and mental health appointments from a smartphone, computer or other mobile device for free. AcademicLiveCare provides supplemental care in addition to campus services and insurance benefits. It does not provide crisis or emergency care.
Available for: students, staff and faculty
Health and Wellness Services has launched a new mental health app for students, staff and faculty. Download WellTrack to track your mood, practice skills and complete modules.
WellTrack is available on the App Store and Google Play. Sign in with your IdentiKey for free access.
Available for: students
Students, staff and faculty can access acupuncture and massage therapy services through Medical Services at Wardenburg Health Center. Take some time off during the day to treat yourself to massage or acupuncture.
Note: Acupuncture and massage services are not covered by student or employee health insurance plans and must be paid out of pocket.
Available for: students, staff and faculty
The Basic Needs Center is a campus care collective connecting stidents to essential resources like food and housing. Students can visit the Buff Pantry for food resources while faculty and staff can attend mobile food pantries.
Available for: students*
*Mobile food pantries are open to staff and faculty.
CAPS is the primary mental health service on campus for students. They provide short-term counseling, community referrals, consultations, workshops, group therapy and more.
Available for: students
FSAP provides free mental health services for all CU Boulder staff and faculty, including brief counseling, community referrals, workshops and support groups.
Available for: staff and faculty