The promise of post-essay and exam freedom is an exhilarating one, and after months of working under the stress of tight deadlines the ensuing free time seems like heaven. You deserve this celebration.
Once this free time arrives, however, it’s quite easy to throw yourself into the next project – be that a drama department production, society end-of-year bashes, or nights of endless clubbing with your mates. There is nothing wrong with these things. It’s your hard-earned free time. But sometimes a pure, unadulterated relaxation break can allow you to do things you love without the pressure or guilt of studying, rehearsing, or even socialising. University is an overwhelming environment; sometimes a break to recharge can help you enjoy the special occasions even more.
In my first and second years, keeping busy and engaged at all times (even after all deadlines finished) was perfect. In my third year, however, I found more enjoyment in long walks at the Quay, watching Netflix all day, and reading books for pleasure. There was a loud part of my brain yelling at me for not being active 24/7, but I don’t think there could have been a better way for me to prepare for a Master’s. Perhaps I’ve just become more boring and exhaustible with age (a scary thought!), but there may be an interesting idea here.
this is one of the only periods where you’ll have this luxury of utter relaxation.
It is odd saying that one ‘should’ or ‘should not’ take a break following exams – it’s your free time. But I feel it’s important to get an escape from the stress and obligations that have been a constant over the last eight months. You’ll be able to take time for yourself and then come back refreshed for the next year, or the next step in life. Furthermore, this is one of the only periods where you’ll have this luxury of utter relaxation. However you spend it, make it enjoyable.
Will I follow this advice? Hopefully. I still have another three months of dissertation work before my August submission. But since it will still be a slightly more relaxed schedule than the last few months have been, I am going to try to incorporate some breaks and rejuvenation in between studying.
There’s a lot to be said for completely taking a break from all things ‘productive’. If every thought of post-exam activity feels overwhelming or exhausting, you shouldn’t feel guilty for skipping Unit One in favour of some Ben and Jerry’s and Netflix. University is your time and life, so if taking a break seems like the best option for you, there should be no guilt about seizing the opportunity.