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Reading Break May Actually Increase Student Stress

man sits at computer desk with head in hands

By Kallandra Weatherbee

Although reading break is a stress reliever for some students, the week after may be a tough adjustment.

Tanya Spencer, clinical psychologist and lead of student counselling at NAIT said when high expectations are set for break and are not met this can lead to unmotivated students and a hard adjustment period the first week after reading break said.

“What we see is heading into reading week everyone’s really optimistic about all the rest they’re going to do or all the work they’re going to do and actually the week after reading week people feel worse,” said Spencer.

Spencer believes to keep students motivated after break is to keep a list of things to do during break short.

“If they are fantasizing about all this great stuff they’re going to do during reading week, I would say make a list and then cut it in half or take a third and prioritize which are most important to you,” said Spencer.

Spencer also believes to take a break and rest during any breaks and reminds students to prioritize.

“If you’re going to blow something off or procrastinate just declare it. Like, you know what, I thought I wanted to do this because I felt like I have all this time but I’ve changed my mind and I’m just not that invested in it right now. And then dont waste that time feeling guilty about it. Just go off and do whatever it is you would rather do,” said Spencer.

When coming back from break Spencer believes it is important to allow for mental health breaks and find productive activities for free time.

“I’ve seen a lot of students put something off because they are very stressed out and worried about it and then when it comes time they either procrastinate or they just change their mind. That found time just ends up getting wasted with more anxiety and stress. When are you going to give yourself permission to live? We’re all grown ups and we all have the permission to run our own lives,” said Spencer.

For students that are struggling to adjust from coming back from break Spencer recommends meditation or calming videos online.

“If someone is struggling with anxiety and stress after a break there’s a lot of videos and meditative techniques online,” said Spencer.

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