What do you do on holiday breaks? Do you veg out on the couch and watch movies, or do you not even realize you’re on a break because of how much work you’re doing? Maybe you’re someone who wants to please everyone by attending the parties, joining the trips, and visiting all the places to which you’re invited. Wanting to please everyone is already a difficult task, but the holiday season can make this even harder. Everyone wants to spend time with their closest family and friends, which is understandable; however, if you are a graduate student who plans to visit your hometown to spend time with extended family and old friends, you can feel stressed about not getting to do everything you want or getting to see everyone you want.

I want to expand on a topic that I mentioned in my last blog post, which was about relaxing when you want. If you happened to miss my last blog post about how to rest this holiday season, it is located here. This time, I want to offer helpful advice that will allow you to use the holidays for truly relaxing instead of stressing about whom to spend your time with and when.

Do not attend every event for which you receive an invitation.

I understand wanting to be everywhere at once with the people you value most, but if you attend every holiday event, you will eventually burn out. These events can include lavish parties with coworkers, relaxed weekends in a log cabin with family, or regular shopping trips with your friends. As I mentioned in the previous blog post, scheduling your time is important for the holidays so you can budget your time wisely. Decide who you want to spend the most time with and whether the event they’re hosting is worth your time to attend.

Taking the above examples, you might choose to attend a holiday party for your workplace because it only takes a few hours out of one night, but maybe you tell your family that you can spend one day and night in the log cabin; then, you decide to go shopping with your friends once or twice but skip out on other trips after completing your holiday shopping. In your free time, you might have graduate work to do, or you could spend this time relaxing by yourself and getting some “me” time. In one of our articles, The Importance of Self-Care: Advice to Graduate Students, we help graduatestudents understand how to take care of themselves when it’s time to relax.

Do not allow your holidays to derail your graduate work.

Holiday and mid-semester breaks exist for a purpose. You need time away from your constant studying to refresh and be able to come back with full focus. Having this time should allow you to gain better perspective about where you started, where you’ve come, and where you have left to go; however, breaks should not give you an excuse to completely stop all graduate work. As I also mentioned in my previous blog post, work when you should. At the end of some breaks, though, we might look back and regret how many shopping trips we went on, or how many holiday parties we attended. Instead of allowing these setbacks to control your graduate work’s progress, refocus on why you are a graduate student so you can continue it in your next semester.

I found an article on the website gradhacker that provides an interesting perspective to times that delay important work in less-than perfect timing. Basically, the author wants to express that panicking, taking bad care of yourself, avoiding communication with your committee, and not readjusting your expectations are not beneficial to your graduate work or your health. During this holiday season, don’t stay so busy with holiday events that you forget that you’re on break from school work. Even if you get a few paragraphs done in a couple days, that’s more paragraphs than what you had before you went on break.

The point of school breaks, whether they are for end-of-the-year holidays, mid-semester breaks, or summer breaks, is that you take a break. Breaks are necessary for your mind and body to escape the normal routine of books, classes, papers, and theses. Coming back with a focused mind and a better perspective on your work is extremely beneficial. Use this time wisely by relaxing and spending time with friends and family, but also remember why you’re on break in the first place. Don’t allow yourself to regret the time you didn’t spend on your graduate work. And as always, let me know what you think and if you have any questions in the comment section below.


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