By Sami Schwartz ’13, UMD Public and Community Health, Center for Health and Wellbeing Intern
School’s out for the summer! No more exams, studying, homework, or the stress of being in class five days a week.Now what?
Usually on summer break, I spend the first week lying in bed, only getting up to take my dog out or grab some food. I laze around, catching up on every show I missed throughout the semester and finally starting that book I’ve wanted to read (for fun).
After that week of laziness is through, I start planning to do something more worthwhile. Resting up and being lazy after the stress of final exams is okay – temporarily.
Being productive and making good use of your free time is something that will always benefit your wellness, and summer is the perfect time to do it!
Here are some tips for being productive during the summer months, as well as increase your wellness in each dimension:
I usually start the semester with a plan to fit in physical activity – wake up early to work out before class or attend a gym class 3 times a week. The first week I succeed, maybe the second… but by time the schoolwork starts piling on, I give up. Sound familiar?
With all this free time over the summer, you can have a workout plan that won’t be impacted by school or work. Make a workout plan and stick to it – the only thing standing in your way is your motivation. If you’re in the College Park area over the summer, check out The Stamp’s and CRS’ Sizzlin’ Summer Series schedule for indoor and outdoor “Summer Get Fit” classes.
The summer is also a great time to be active outdoors. Try out new bike trails in your area, go swimming, plan a hike or hit the nearest lake for a paddle. You might even consider signing up for a Summer Adventure Trip with the Maryland Adventure Program. Trips on the summer’s itinerary include climbing, camping, hiking, paddling and biking.
Another area of physical wellness that can be improved over the summer is your sleep habits. After relying on coffee and Red Bull to keep you awake to study for exams, I’m going to guess your sleeping patterns aren’t the best. Having energy to do the things you want throughout the day is an important aspect to physical wellness and getting a restful night sleep is the first step in that process.
Enhance your emotional wellness by taking on challenges or risks this summer by trying something you have never done before. Exploring new interests gives you a sense of adventure and confidence. If you don’t like what you tried, try to react in a positive manner.
You can also use the summer to learn some new time management skills, so when you return to school or work in the fall you’ll be better equipped to manage the stress that is an inevitable part of college life. It is important to learn how to take action and deal with problems that come your way in a healthy manner.
Can’t seem to find time to slow down and reflect during the school year? Re-charge your batteries over the summer by taking time to turn inward. Spend time engaging in activities that give your live a sense of meaning and purpose.
Some people find that meditation or yoga help them connect with something larger than themselves. If that’s something you’ve been meaning to check out, chances are there’s a yoga studio near your home where you can take a class or workshop.
It’s hard enough to stay on top of academics throughout the year – between attending classes, studying for exams, writing papers, working on projects and keeping up with assigned reading, it’s a challenge to make time to plan out and pursue your long-term career goals.
Make it a priority this summer to plan for the future you envision for yourself and take proactive steps that will help get you there.
Apply for that summer job you have always wanted, take on an internship that could give you a valuable learning experience or spend time volunteering to pursue your interests.
You could also use the summer months to work on updating and polishing your resume. The University Career Center has some great online resources to get your resume in great shape. Think it’s good to go? Give it one more thorough look with their helpful Resume Critiquing Guide.
This dimension is likely easy for you to focus on in the summer. This could include spending time with family or re-connecting with far away friends. Be intentional about nurturing the relationships that matter to you and building up a strong social support system.
Make memories with friends and family by planning a picnic, going on a vacation, spending a day at a local amusement park or making a trip to the beach. These shared experiences will help sustain you when things start to feel hectic.
While intellectual wellness may be the last thing you want to work on over the summer, there are lots of fun ways to keep learning and broaden your mind during this downtime.
One of the most popular summertime intellectual pursuits is reading. Go to your local library or bookstore and pick out a book that you wouldn’t normally have the luxury of reading or re-read your favorites. Don’t have the attention span for a full-blown novel? Indulge in some magazines – maybe even outdoors or with your toes in the sand.
Dare I mention you could even look into taking a class over the summer? The Art and Learning Center in The Stamp Student Union offers a variety of just-for-fun classes over the summer including watercolor, ceramics, bellydancing, and guitar.
With all these tips in mind, I’ve been brainstorming ways to increase my wellness this summer. For starters, I’m going to lay out by the pool with friends, swim some laps, and read a few novels. Hey, that counts as social, physical and intellectual wellness, right? See, I’m enhancing three dimensions of wellness already!
Share with us!
What’s on your summer wellness to-do list?