(probably not what you’re thinking)
Usually when you read tips on how to recharge and renew over breaks, they tell you to do things like meditate, get a massage, take time to reflect, and use the downtime to rest up. That’s not the advice I’m about to give you. In my 25 years of teaching, I have discovered that the holiday and summer breaks that bring the most renewal and energy for me are the ones where I make positive life changes, strengthen good habits, and get things done. So you won’t find many restful suggestions on my list of ways to recharge over break: instead, you’ll find ways to finish out the break feeling productive, energized, and ready to tackle whatever comes next.
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1. Wake up at the same time as you normally do each day.
You heard me correctly: DON’T sleep in during your break. When you get up at the same time each morning, you keep your body clock running smoothly, and you’re more likely to be able to get a good sleep at night. When you’re used to getting up at the same time there’s no need to adjust back to getting up early when the break is over, so you won’t feel as tired in the morning going back to your normal routine. Plus, if you get up at your normal time when you don’t have to be anywhere, you can use that extra hour or two to get a jump on your day. Think of what you could accomplish with all of those extra hours!
2. Exercise regularly.
You might feel like taking a break from your regular exercise routine when you’re on a break from school or work. Don’t! Exercising boosts your energy and your mood, and it also helps ensure you’ll get a good night’s rest. If it’s a holiday break, more than likely you’ll be eating more goodies than usual, so that makes it all the more important to stick to your exercise routine. Don’t have an exercise routine? Breaks are the perfect time to start! Why wait for a new year to start making positive changes? And think of it this way: you’re going to be sore if you’re starting from zero. It’s better to be sore over break than when you’re back at your regular routine. Need motivation? Cute workout clothes make really do make working out more fun. Lululemon, Athleta, and Old Navy are my go-to sources for cute workout wear you can actually work out in.
3. Swap out your coffee for green tea.
Say whaaaat? Okay, I’m not suggesting your totally eliminate coffee. Let’s not get crazy here. But trading a few of your weekly coffees for green tea, especially matcha green tea (think green tea on steroids), can reduce jitters and help bring a calm alertness. Matcha green tea is reported to have many antioxidents and anti-inflammatory effects, along with the jitter-free wake-up effect. You can get a matcha latte at Starbucks (and they’re very yummy!), but it’s better to make your own at home. I take 1/4 cup of boiling water, whisk in 1 tsp of Adiago matcha powder (my favorite!), add a teaspoon or two of honey, and then add in 1.5 cups of steamed coconut milk (I use the Breville Cafe Milk Frother). Y’all, it’s not as sticky sweet as Starbucks and has a ton less sugar and fewer calories.
4. Plan your menus and meal prep.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to get lazy about planning means. I’ll go through stretches where I plan menus and get the groceries needed to carry out those plans, but then I fall off the wagon. If you’ve fallen off of that wagon (or even if you were never on it to begin with), getting into the habit of having a meal plan and sticking to it saves you so much time, energy, and money. It also helps you eat healthier because you’re not ordering pizza or nuking frozen meals at the last minute. On Sundays I write down the meals I plan to make in my daily planner (the Sweet Water Decor gray and rose gold planner shown above is the exact one I’m using), and then I make a grocery list to go with it. If you need some help getting started, I’ve had a really good experience with eMeals (read my review here). Hey, if Dave Ramsey says it’s good, you know it is. I like to plan several weeks ahead when I’m on breaks; that way I have less to do when it’s time to get back to the grind.
5. Clean and organize one closet.
Sure, it would be great to get all of your closets, drawers, and storage areas organized over a break. I don’t know about you, but I’m way more likely to commit to decluttering one small area. Even if it’s just a small closet (or smaller – even a dresser or single drawer!), I guarantee you will feel a sense of accomplishment and breathe a little easier knowing that one small area is clean. Sometimes this quick win is enough to keep me going on to other closets and areas: even if it’s not, you still got that much accomplished and it feels good to know that you have cleaned and organized at least one area over a break. I love Marie Kondo’s KonMari method of tidying (here’s a post I did on that). And if you need some motivation to declutter, I highly recommend watching an episode or two of Hoarders.
6. Edit your beauty routine.
If you’re like me, every so often you notice that you have accumulated quite a
hoard collection of beauty products. I will admit that I like trying new products, and sometimes I buy new products before old products are used up. Breaks are a good time to take a good hard look at what’s in your bathroom and decide which products you like and which you don’t. Throw away what you don’t use or like (or those tubes and bottles you’re not quite sure HOW to use – LOL), and find a dedicated space (a shelf, drawer, bag, or box) to store the products you do use and like. Over the last 2-3 years, I have narrowed down my favorite products to just the following: goPure Beauty for skin care (more about goPure here) and Monat for hair (more about Monat here). I am still in the market for a go-to makeup brand (I use all kinds), so if you have any recommendations, shoot me a comment. Getting your routine down to just the basics that you actually like and use helps clear some clutter out of your routine (and your bathroom!) and is a great thing to accomplish over a break.
7. Do think about school/work/post-work obligations. A little.
Most people will tell you NOT to think about work, school, or any of those other obligations that will slam back in on you once your break is over. I disagree: sorting through a few work-related tasks can help ease anxiety when you return. Plus, if you’re like me, they’ll be in the back of your mind all throughout break anyway. Don’t get me wrong — I’m not saying you should spend hours a day working on your days off. However, I always feel so much better about going back to work when I have thought through a few uncertainties (coming up with a new lesson idea to replace the one from last year that didn’t work so well, reading a few trade articles on English teaching strategies or student engagement activities that I’ve been meaning to take a look at, going through some assessment data). I find that when I totally disengage from work responsibilities during a break, it’s so much harder to get back into the swing of things later. Unless you absolutely hate your job, choose a few interesting things to sort through over break. And if you do absolutely hate your job, then the break is a perfect time to send out a few resumes.
How do you recharge over breaks?
These are 7 things that help me feel so much more refreshed and renewed over a break from school. Looking back over this list, I think what makes them work for me is that all of these activities help not just during the break, but they help ease the transition back to work (and continue to help keep things running smoothly when you keep them going once the break is over). What are some things that help you recharge?