How to Relax over Winter Break

How to Relax over Winter Break

I’m the kind of person who prefers to be busy. 

Right now, I work full-time for Signet as the coordinator for its admissions and SAT services, in addition to managing Signet’s New York office. On top of that, I’m finishing my dissertation (which is the final step in earning two PhDs) and helping to open a fresh-format grocery store. Even though I’m juggling a lot of very serious commitments, I still manage to see friends and family on a regular basis, and, yes, I get at least seven hours of sleep a night. Although there are times when work overtakes the hours I’ve set aside for not working, for the most part, I’m able to keep it all under control. 

It’s no miracle: 

I plan out my work using a task management tool called Asana (the same tool all of us at Signet use); I have great mentors to help me with business planning, and I’ve even hired one of Signet’s writing tutors to help keep me on track and organize my dissertation writing. I know that I wouldn’t be able to do any of the things I do without the support of my colleagues, friends, and advisors. 

But, soon, I’ll be facing a new challenge. My dissertation will be done—for the most part—before our holiday break, and I’ll have about a week off between Christmas Eve and New Year’s to…um…to…I have no idea what I’m going to do! I know, I know, you’re saying, “Just relax!”, but honestly, I am not sure I know how to do that. 

I am, however, trying to figure it out. So, come with me on a journey through my thoughts about how I’m going to relax this winter break. First, let’s run through my limitations:

  1. I need to keep my plan affordable.
  2. I don’t have enough time to travel somewhere far away (given only a few days of vacation, I can’t spend 12 hours on a plane to get somewhere, and besides, when I go to a foreign country, I like to stay for 10 days or more to really get a feel for a place).
  3. I don’t want to be completely isolated from my friends and family—I’d rather be able to celebrate with them than to relax all by my lonesome self.
  4. I hate being cold.
  5. I need a break from New York City (where I live).

If you feel like this is one of those logic problems on the LSAT, you are starting to understand my conundrum. 

Basically, I have to stay close to New York City, but at the same time, get out of New York City! 

Before this post turns into a travel ad for the wonders of upstate New York, let’s talk about what I want to do during this welcome break from my usual routine. It’s actually hard to imagine. The only time I can sit around and do nothing is when I’m on a beach, which is out of the question for the several reasons above. It’s also hard to conceptualize, because for so long (seven years!), any free time I had was dedicated to my graduate work. 

I don’t even know what it will be like to not have the pressure of this dissertation on my shoulders.

One thing that would definitely help me is to take on a fun, relaxing project. Yes, I know that sounds like code for more work, but stick with me here. I’ve found that if I just try to sit and force myself to relax, it never works. However, if I’m engaged with something that’s fun, I really can let go and step back from all of the day-to-day.

So, if I undertake something like mastering a recipe for a pastry, painting a piece of furniture, or learning a new piece for the piano, I would still be doing something productive (i.e., not sitting around), but it would be something totally unrelated to my other work. 

That would be a way to change my setting and mindset without physically going somewhere else. 

Of course, I’ll probably need a long day at Spa Castle, but, during the week, I could be a lady who lunches, goes to yoga in the afternoon, and (gasp!) reads for fun.

Picture of Sheila A.

Sheila A.

Sheila Akbar is President & COO of Signet Education. She holds a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Harvard University and two doctoral degrees from Indiana University. She joined the team in the summer of 2010, bringing with her a wealth of experience teaching SAT, ACT, GRE, literature, and composition in both one-on-one and classroom settings.

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