Soon the hallways will be quiet, desks will be empty, and you’ll be headed to the parking lot celebrating– winter break is almost here!
Congratulations on making it halfway through the school year. You deserve a holiday recharge full of relaxation and fun before diving into the spring semester.
But how do you turn off the never-ending to-do list to slow down this winter break? Here are 9 ideas to get started on as soon as the dismissal bell rings.
Enjoy a lunch break
Yes, an actual lunch break! Find a restaurant you’ve been wanting to try and meet friends or family for an uninterrupted meal. No classes to pick up from P.E. in six minutes, copies to make, or parent phone calls— just a slow, carefree lunch with the people you love.
Giving back not only helps your community, but it also lowers stress and increases feelings of relaxation. In addition to providing a dose of the feel-good chemical dopamine, volunteering can lead to new relationships, increased physical health, and a longer lifespan. Find a cause you’re passionate about and have fun!
Be a tourist in your own town
Didn’t that new museum open? What about the art center you’ve always been curious about? Winter break is the perfect time to explore local attractions that are tricky to visit during school hours. Find a list of top sites in your area and enjoy a day of exploring your own zip code.
Do something hands-on
Your students hit a wall when they are flooded with technology assignments. Adults are no different! Power down your screens and enjoy a tech-free break where your mind can focus on a stimulating task. Hit the kitchen with a new baking recipe, try out a craft, strategize over a puzzle, or get a little messy with a paint-by-number kit. Your finished product doesn’t have to be perfect! Enjoy the creative process and let your mind wander.
Watch your favorite movie
Winter break is the perfect time to cozy-up and revisit your favorite movie. Throw on a holiday classic, or watch that laugh-till-you-cry comedy you haven’t seen since last year. Pop some popcorn and enjoy a night of nostalgia.
Recess duty is great, but it doesn't replace dedicated outdoor exercise. Time outside helps your mental and physical health— a perfect way to recharge this break. Bundle up and enjoy a good old-fashioned walk, jog, or bike ride around your neighborhood. If you live in a warmer climate, swimming or hiking are great solutions to get your blood pumping. If you’re surrounded by snow, consider skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating for reenergizing. Playground workouts are a fun way to recharge without buying any equipment (and perfect for kids who want to tag along).
Read (something fun)
Once you’re back inside, grab a blanket and relax in the storyline of a great book. Challenge: read something unrelated to education. While it’s tempting to dive straight into that latest professional development book, let yourself start with a fun, “just-for-you” title. Mystery, historical fiction, thriller, nonfiction… the choices are endless for a moment of reading in solitude.
Plan your first week back
What am I teaching when I get back? To avoid last-minute winter break woes, consider taking a few hours at the start of break to plan ahead for the first week back in January. Carve out three hours one morning (set a timer!) to work through lesson plans and a “to-do” list for your return to campus. Here are some resources to help ease your planning.
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Getting your plans down on paper will help eliminate the stress of forgetting something, and allow you to focus on the holiday moments until you return back to school.
Reflect and celebrate
Finally, before you leave campus for winter break, grab a piece of paper and reflect on how far you’ve come this school year. Create a list of three big semester milestones you’re proud of.
Here are some prompts to spark reflection:
One new thing I tried this semester was _______________________.
What is one relationship (with a student, faculty member, parent, or teammate) that grew since the fall? Describe the relationship now compared to the start of the school year.
The funniest moment of the semester was _______________________.
At the start of the school year _________, but now ________________.
Looking back on this semester, I want to remember ________________.
I’m really proud of ___________________________________________.
Keep your list in a special place at school, like a drawer or folder you reference often. Pull out the paper in the new year when you need encouragement or a reminder of how much progress you’re making.