Towards the end of high school and throughout uni, holidays can start to feel like a source of dread, rather than an opportunity to relax. It always feels like there are things you need to be doing: internships, work experience, developing your portfolio, boosting your resume, networking, preparing for next semester…the list is endless. A survey has found that eight out of ten Aussies feel guilty about relaxing, even when their holiday is well-deserved. Although hard work is definitely important for achieving your goals, taking time off is super important for your mental health.

1. Make a to-do list of things you want to do

If you’re finding it hard to switch off from uni or school work, chances are your holiday guilt could be stemming from that feeling of being unproductive. Never fear, there are ways to feel like you’re accomplishing your goals, even when you’re doing things you enjoy. The answer, my friend, lies in lists. On your break, try making a bucket list of things you want to do, whether it’s taking a road trip down the coast, reading that book or watching that TV show, or eating at a restaurant you haven’t tried before. There’s no feeling more satisfying than crossing something off a list, and once your holiday is over, you can look back at all the things you’ve done and know you’ve spent your time wisely.

2. Have a holiday goal

If you’re a person who thrives on long-term aims and vision boards, try setting your mind to a larger goal you want to accomplish these holidays. Make sure it’s something you’ll enjoy, like a project or hobby you want to develop that you just don’t have time to during the semester. Maybe you want to plant a vegetable garden, or create that big art piece you’ve had in your mind for a while. Maybe you want to develop a new skill, like sewing, cooking or ballroom dancing. Whatever it is, you’re guaranteed to have something to show for it after your holiday is over.

3. Reframe your thinking

This can be the hardest part of vanquishing the holiday guilt: convincing yourself, mentally, that taking a break is necessary, healthy, and deserved. Most of this just comes from repetition. If you’re having trouble, write a list of reasons why you should relax. You’ve worked hard this semester, so you deserve it. Recharging is just as important as getting work done, and you’ll be heaps more productive next semester if you feel refreshed and relaxed. Taking time off is good for your mental health. There are countless reasons why you should be taking a break, so try to focus your thoughts on those, rather than the work you think you could be doing.

4. Write a list of all your accomplishments

If you still need more convincing that you well and truly deserve this break, try noting down all your accomplishments from the last year, term, or semester. Having a visual representation of everything you’ve done is great way to show yourself that you’ve been productive. If you’re a maths person, try putting it in numbers. For example, last semester you might have attended 30 band rehearsals or sports matches, wrote 10 assignments, sat 8 exams, did 50 hours of work, wrote 11 blog posts, and so on and so forth. You might be surprised how substantial it looks once you put it on paper, and it will definitely convince you that a bit of time off is well-deserved.

5. Take a step back

The most important thing you can do is to take a step back from your work. Even if it’s just for a week or two, lock your school or uni books away and resist the temptation to check your school or uni emails. Out of sight, out of mind may not be the best motto for everything in life, but it certainly helps for temporary banishment of that nagging sense of guilt or obligation.

header image: haroldroger

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