Relax, Refresh, Reset

Person reading a book, holding a cup of tea.

August 15, 2023

Our lives are often focused on being as productive as possible. “Success” is frequently measured by how busy a person is, or how much they are able to take on without showing signs of slowing down. But maintaining this mindset can lead to burn out — especially if you, like many of our students, are balancing your career, family life, and graduate studies everyday.

When a person is burnt out, they become emotionally, physically, and mentally exhausted. All responsibilities — whether they be at work, home, or school — begin to feel like a burden. Finishing tasks no longer brings a sense of accomplishment, relationships become tense, and hobbies are no longer fun.

Luckily, there are steps you can take to avoid burnout — and scheduling time to relax is one of the most important.

There are numerous studies on the mental and physical benefits of relaxation. Not only does relaxation reduce stress and improve your mood, but it decreases blood pressure, relieves chronic pain, and improves your immune system. This means you’ll have more energy to carry out your day-to-day tasks — which, in turn, means more time to decompress and spend with loved ones.

It can be difficult to pry yourself away from your work, especially when you’re stressed about deadlines and upcoming exams. However, researchers at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill agree that taking a break — even if it’s just five to twenty minutes — can improve your productivity when studying and working. Incorporating relaxation into your daily life is easier than you think. Reorganizing your workspace, having a healthy snack, or calling a friend are all quick and effective ways to refresh your mind.

If you’re looking to take a longer break, exercise is also an excellent option. While exercise might not be the first activity you associate with “relaxing”, moving your body is one of the best ways to relieve stress and reset your mind. Walking, stretching, and yoga are low-impact and low-cost activities that can have a high impact on your physical and mental health.

However, there are right and wrong ways to take a break. While it can be tempting to scroll through social media between tasks, during your lunch break, or after a long day at work, studies show that using your phone does not provide a true mental break. In fact, using technology during times of “rest” actually decreases your mental energy, rather than boosting it.

To make the most out of your relaxation time, it can be best to disconnect from your electronics. Taking a walk outside, reading a book, or picking up a new hobby — like baking, coloring, or crocheting — can help you to truly recharge your body and mind.

Today — National Relaxation Day — reminds us that it’s more than okay to take a break. Having a clearer mind and healthier body can be a game-changer in every area of your life. By taking a break to relax, refresh, and reset, you can boost your productivity at work, increase your focus when studying, and improve your overall sense of well-being.