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How to take a mini vacation from grad school
Over this past weekend, I traveled to Jamaica for a friend’s destination wedding. Without a doubt, I was excited to enjoy the warm weather and salty ocean but unfortunately, my anxiety about my workload was outweighing my enjoyment. This semester is shaping up to be an extremely busy one and I still am figuring out how to manage it. My anxiety kept taking over during the hours leading up to my flight. My thoughts persisted: How am I going to get everything done for next week? And the week after? What if I don’t do these things to the best of my ability? Should I do work while I am on vacation? How much work should I do? But what is the point of me going all this way and not enjoying some time off?
These questions in my mind wouldn’t stop spiraling.
You may or may not have also experienced similar anxiety/questions, especially during a heavy workload. Here are the things that helped me relax, calm my anxiety and spoiler alert – have one of the best vacations ever.
These tips can be applied if you are heading on a vacation yourself or if you just feel like you need to take 1 or 2 days and enjoy a staycation.
1. Your thoughts are not you
I struggle with anxiety and one of the most helpful actions to calm my thoughts is to become aware that these thoughts, worries, and stresses are not me.
There is nothing more important to true growth than realizing that you are not the voice of the mind – you are the one who hears it.
― Michael A. Singer,
If this quote resonates with you, I highly recommend reading the book above to aid in this journey beyond yourself.
2. Set your out of office on e-mail
You don’t want to be checking your e-mails on your time off so recognize your habits of immediately reaching for your phone and checking your emails. To make this easier, set your out of office e-mail to say you will respond when you are back. Anything can wait for a weekend, so don’t worry and leave your phone in your room.
When I set my out of office reply, I usually add an extra day or two to the actual days I am off. This gives me more time to respond when I return home.
3. Work an extra hour each day the week before
If your schedule is anything like mine then you might be convincing yourself you can’t take a break because there is just too much to do. I challenge you on that thought and think it may be necessary to fit in a break, for this reason. If your schedule allows for it, fit in an extra hour each day the week leading up to your vacation/staycation, in order to help you feel like you are getting more done. You may have to cancel some meetings and shift things around but fit this tip in.
4. Get organized on priorities
Come up with a plan of attack, what actually needs to get done before you go away and what you can get done later on. Getting clear on your priorities will organize your thoughts and will allow you to tackle each one in order of importance. It will also provide you with some peace of mind over the weekend.
5. Remember that a new perspective can transform your thinking
Sometimes getting away from your normal routine can transform the way we think and approach our work – for the better. Go for a walk, go wander and you will find that your mind will become a little bit more clear. You may even find a new approach that will actually save you more time in your schedule in the future.
6. Don’t plan – listen
I am a big organizer and planner. I even had a plan when I was going to do work on my vacation. Don’t do this. Leave your to-do list at the door.
On my vacation, I was able to ignore that list, I was clear on my priorities so I knew what I really need to get done and I did it. When I first left for my vacation I was so tired and thought I might end up sleeping for most this vacation because that’s how tired I was. I actually ended up waking up early on most days, due to my normal routine and my body was actually okay with this. Surprisingly, I didn’t need to sleep in or have naps – what my body was telling me was that what I needed more than to sleep, was to relax and enjoy the hours I was actually awake.
So I was able to enjoy early morning coffees and readings. Which also ended up putting me in a confident headspace to actually enjoy the rest of my day.
Using these tips allowed me to fully calm my anxiety about my work, get some things done on my vacation but only on my time and only if I felt like it. These tips really enforced a grateful spirit and allowed me to take full advantage of the time I did have because I knew it was limited.
Now go plan your mini vacation/staycation! You deserve it and at the end of the day, if you don’t finish a reading or get something done, it’s not the end of the world – life will go on.
Until next time,
P.S Don’t forget to use #ScholarCulture #ScholarSquad #ScholarSunday to keep me updated on your experiences as grad students.
P.P.S Applying to grad school for the 2018/19 school year? Check out this FREE eBook on 5 steps to a successful grad school application. Are you in grad school and struggling to find easy lunches to bring to campus? Check out three FREE recipes and full nutritional information here.