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December 15, 2020

From: Denise K. Magner

Subject: The Quick Tip: How to Have a Restorative Winter Break During a Pandemic

This can still be a wonderful time of year, if you resist the urge to bury yourself in the distractions of work.

It is no secret that remote research and online teaching have increased workloads over the past several months. You need a break. Yet given the bleak options for the holidays, thanks to Covid-19, you might think that busyness is the only way to distract yourself from loneliness and fear. Filling the quiet with a long list of unfinished research projects might seem like a better choice than staring at the walls at your work-from-home desk.

Those are normal fears, but it would be unwise to channel them into a frenzy of academic activity. If you approach this holiday break with openness, you can find moments of real relief and joy, as well as new perspectives, to carry you through the rest of the winter months. Here’s how.

  • Embrace the break. The fact is, after months of working in this pandemic pressure cooker, even the most mild-mannered are running out of patience. Once your nerves are frayed, it is easier to lose your temper, send a regrettable email, or shout at anti-maskers on your “mental health” walk. Taking time to genuinely rest and recharge will help you return to your best and sanest self.
  • Plan a digital detox. Put your email on auto-reply. Delete social-media apps (temporarily, for the duration of your break) from your phone. Social media are full of people who can make you feel bad. You don’t need any of that poison, and you should protect your precious downtime from negative time-wasters.
  • Start planning your break. A lazy day or two is delightful. Five can start to feel like cabin fever. So set boundaries and make sure that you dedicate time to other fulfilling leisure activities. Draw comics, play guitar, bake every kind of cookie in your family recipe book. Set yourself a personal challenge. Your normal go-to joyful activities should be penciled in and prioritized.

Continue reading: "How to Have a Restorative Holiday Break During a Pandemic," by Aisha S. Ahmad

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Denise K. Magner is senior editor of The Chronicle’s advice section, which features articles written by academics for academics on faculty and administrative career issues.