5 Tips for a Holly Jolly Winter Break

It might seem distant now, but winter break is nearly here.

Whether you’re still in school or planning a return from college, the time off you have at the end of the year is so exciting. Weeks, maybe several of them, all to yourself!

Perhaps there will be feasts with family and friends. Or playing in the snow at your cabin. Maybe you have exciting festive plans. Maybe those exciting festive plans are entirely you, in bunny slippers and jammies, watching Netflix’s lineup of holiday movies on repeat.

Sounds fun. But remember how hard it is to go back to your old routine? Waking up early? The mountain of schoolwork and emails and… okay, I’m tired just thinking about it.

I’ve got a few ideas on how you can have your candy canes and eat them too – a fun break with no crashing back to the real world after the fact. I promise that all this advice still leaves plenty of room for you to reconnect with those bunny slippers and take a much needed breather.

1. Appreciate your now

This one goes out especially to all the first-year students who will be coming home from college this winter, but it applies to young and old alike.

The holiday break can be a tough transition. You might go from your first, intense semester at college and feel like you don’t fit in at home anymore.

It might feel weird not to grab your roommates and head to the dining hall, or have a bunch of friends around whenever you want to do something fun.

The same might be true if you shift from your bustling high school schedule to sudden downtime. The way to cope with this weird feeling? Be present now.

You might miss your dorm room, but think how nice it is to eat your favorite home cooked food. Pet your dog. Hug your mom. Tease your sister (and then remember how nice it is to see her too, and take her out to the movies or something, okay?).

Remember all the things that you were missing a few months ago? Here they are! Appreciate the things that you love about home, about free time, and then, when it’s time to go back, you can do the same about school.

2. Stay on a schedule

Try really hard not to accidentally shift your personal time zone into something that looks like that of Hawaii – or worse, New Zealand.

Yes, of course, leave room to stay up late making a midnight snowman in a blizzard or sleep in until noon once or twice. But try very hard to stay roughly within your own time zone. There is nothing worse than trying to recover from “jet lag” when you didn’t actually go anywhere.

3. Move away from the screen

I know the siren song of the couch and the afghan and the “whatever you want to binge watch on tv.” I know it well. But, friends, that siren is going to lure you onto the rocks – if the rocks are accidentally spending your whole break with your eyeballs fixed on a screen.

Make a point of keeping some parts of your day screen-free. That might mean leaving your phone upstairs for cookie baking with your family, or limiting yourself to one episode of The Mandalorian.

It might look like scheduling time to connect, face to face, with friends you usually only see on Instagram these days.

Put that tempting couch-afghan combo to work and read a new book, knit a scarf, or play a game. It may be hard, but it’ll yield a winter break that’s more fun, more connected, and more relaxing than it would otherwise be.

4. Figure out what you need to get done

Okay, I’m not trying to be a buzzkill, but you might have some things you need to check off the list before you go back to school. New syllabi to look over, textbooks to order, winter break homework to finish – that sort of thing.

It will surprise none of my regular readers that I’m going to tell you to make a list, break it up into chunks, and do it gradually instead of all at once the day before school starts again.

But seriously. You do not want the last minutes of 2022 to be full of a growing dread that you’re not ready to go back to school. Get a big picture view of what needs doing early and find ways to do it that don’t cut in on your valuable break time.

5. Find your favorites

I’m not talking about raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens here, unless those are your jam. I mean find your favorite things and revel in them.

Spend some time now thinking about what parts of break are your favorite and make plans to really lean on them.

Maybe it’s going with your family to a local ice skating rink or taking your dog on moonlight walks in the snow. Or taking a nap during a football game or decorating your room. Perhaps you’d like a little cocoa with all those marshmallows.

Whatever sights, sounds, smells, and experiences make this chilly season feel festive, you should make sure to give yourself an extra helping of them this winter break.

It’s nearly winter break. You can make it!

See you in 2023!

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