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Why taking a break actually matters

How to switch off at Christmas


There’s a lot of free time over the winter break and it’s up to you how you fill it. Some people spend lots of time with family or want to go out with friends, whereas others like relaxing on their own just watching a bit of Netflix. But whatever you do over Christmas - do you ever catch yourself thinking about all the serious stuff? It’s so hard to completely switch off, but there are some techniques you can use to help you keep your mind free for all the fun things you can get up to while you're on holiday.

Plan out your schedule

Whether you’re working or studying, making a clear list of what needs to be done and when before you head off, is a really effective way to reduce your stress levels - or if you forgot to do it before the holiday started and you think it will help you relax, do it now! This will then result in one of two things:

  • You’ll have a clear list of tasks that need to be done so you can focus on them before you go or plan out clear time for breaks during your time away
  • You’ll realise there’s nothing you need to start on until the new year anyway, so you can properly relax - most of the time, this will be the case.

Turn off push notifications

It’s Christmas. The chances of there being something urgent needed at work is extremely low, because guess what - everyone else at work is also on holiday. Also as a result of this, if you’re on the job hunt, there won’t be any new postings either - do yourself a favour and don’t cause yourself unnecessary anxiety by checking job boards and emails.

This is also a great time to experiment with turning your social media notifications off - if you have nothing else to do, you can check your Instagram to your heart’s content, but disabling push notifications will stop unnecessary interruptions when you’re spending time with friends and family. Even if you’re just chilling, you might benefit from reducing your screen time.

Try out some mindfulness

It’s really important to make time to look after your mental health. By taking a break from your everyday focuses, you can put everything into perspective. Although it’s not for everyone, a quick easy way to do this is trying out a simple mindfulness exercise. Just sit still for a few minutes away from everybody else, and focus on breathing in and out slowly. For those of us whose Christmas breaks can be busy and stressful with various family situations, taking a few minutes for yourself even during time off can be helpful.

Reap the rewards of taking a break

Sometimes it can feel like you have too much to do to switch off and take a break (maybe you have exams or a big project coming up in the new year), but there’s tons of research that proves how breaks are actually good for productivity - also known as just getting stuff done. One reason out of many is that long-term breaks give our brains time to recharge, so we come back to our tasks able to make better decisions.

If you have something in mind you want to achieve in the new year, this last week before then is the perfect time to reflect, relax and recharge, so you can come back with better focus in January, ready to attack your goal.

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