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Why it’s important to make the most of a break

You spent the year working harder than ever to complete Year 12 and get the ATAR you wanted. So it’s understandable if you’re feeling burnt out. Fortunately, there are many ways to recover and prepare for the year ahead. While accepting every party invitation that comes your way, or lying on the beach for days might seem appealing, there are other ways to make the most of your break so that you feel ready to take on university life.

Feel the burn

Burnout is more than just feeling tired. It’s a potent mix of exhaustion, emotional distress, and health problems like depression and obesity. A common side effect of burnout is the feeling of constantly coming up short while attempting to achieve your personal goals. This ‘goal fatigue’ furthers the effects of burnout on us, and the cycle repeats.

Quality of life expert and Deakin University Prof. Robert Cummins, urges people to put as much effort into their downtime, as they put into their studies and their work. Many people fall into the trap of thinking they just need to relax for it to qualify as downtime. ‘There are things you might think are a good idea, but aren’t beneficial. Like sitting at home watching TV. It doesn’t allow young people to develop any new skills or gain new friends,’ Prof. Cummins says. However tempting, sitting in front of Netflix or using your smartphone alone only feeds the rise in stress-related illnesses affecting young people globally.

'There are things you might think are a good idea, but aren’t beneficial. Like sitting at home watching TV. It doesn’t allow young people to develop any new skills or gain new friends.'

Professor Robert Cummins,
Deakin University

Revived by the new

Prof. Cummins recommends connecting with the world in an entirely new way after a stressful period in order to rejuvenate. ‘If people can develop a skill that they might learn to value, like volunteering, it makes the person who is delivering the service feel good because they’re contributing to other people’s lives,’ he says. And this is a huge opportunity to get inventive. Australia is home to many volunteer success stories like Orange Sky Laundry, a free washing service for the homeless, and Oaktree, an anti-poverty movement run by people under 30.

Prof. Cummins also suggests that we make an effort to strengthen our existing relationships and work to build new ones with people who’ll enhance our lives, because it helps us to foster confidence in ourselves. ‘Strong social relationships are a key to leading a successful life in terms of feeling good about yourself,’ he explains.

New beginnings

Beginning tertiary studies, entering the workforce and taking on more adult responsibilities might feel like a challenge, but those who learn to truly embrace their downtime will feel invigorated and ready to tackle new tasks. If you’ve already got a jump-start on developing new skills and building friendships, you’ll feel all the more prepared. It’s also why travelling before you study can have its advantages. It can help you clear your mind, establish your values and develop the skills you need to leave your comfort zone and thrive.

 

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Professor Robert Cummins
Professor Robert Cummins

Emeritus Professor, Faculty of Health, Deakin University
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