The summer holidays will shortly be upon us and although many students may think of maintaining their studies in anticipation of the upcoming academic year, studies show that it is vital for health and wellbeing to take a complete break. How should that time be spent? Are there specific ways for children and parents to improve health, mood and brain function as well as increase productivity when the new academic year begins?
The answer is a resounding ‘Yes’ and many professionals offer similar advice.
First and foremost is to unplug from work and connectivity. This means leaving all work and study related issues behind for a while, and shutting down email contact for a at least a week. For young people, this could include a break from social media for a time, to lose the constant need to find out exactly what is happening every second, something that is exhausting and also interferes with sleep and the ability to enjoy the present moment.
Secondly, getting plenty of sleep is another important factor. Sleep is something that is vital to both work and health and most students are not getting enough of it. Sleep deprivation has been used as a form of torture throughout the ages and with good reason – sleep is a natural balm for the mind and allows the body to heal and grow properly. The lack of it has a severe impact on our ability to think and perform adequately in all spheres of life! Studies show that vacations improve our well-being if we make sure to get all the sleep we need during our time off.
Another option could be to try out a new skill. There's plenty of evidence that learning something new, such as a language or musical instrument, has powerful brain-boosting power. Spending part of the holiday attempting to learn something new will stretch the mind and create new brain connections as you move outside of your comfort zone.
Finally. enjoy the time and bond with family and friends. During stressful times, such as examination periods, family relationships can be placed under strain and we often do not have the opportunity to interact as we normally would. A vacation allows for valuable time together to reconnect and also simply to enjoy doing what each person want to do. For students, this should be a special priority as there is often not sufficient time during the term to relax and engage with friends and activities without a care in the world.
Ultimately, it is all about balance. When the time comes to step away from the ‘grindstone’ and take a break, it is important to make sure that you are able to do so freely and without guilt, so that stepping back into the school or work environment is done with ease.