My exams are now over, but I’m really struggling to switch off. Even though I know that I can relax, I keep feeling guilty for not being productive. How can I enjoy taking a break without worrying about worrying about what else I should be doing?

These days between exams ending and May Week beginning can leave us all feeling as though we’re in a strange sort of limbo. We live in fear of being insensitive to those who are still struggling on through and, because those petrifying papers and the questions they posed are still fresh in our minds, it’s all too easy to dwell on what our results might be. There’s a left-over tension in the air that’s not quite ready to be released. You need to find a way to distract yourself, but you might not feel quite up to full-scale celebrations just yet — with the exception of obligatory post-exam Cava, of course! You’ve expended a lot of effort on your exams and it’s likely that you’re exhausted. Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to HAVE FUN straight away. Take your time, enjoy a more relaxed pace of life, stroll in the sunshine until you feel recharged and ready to throw yourself into whatever May Week events you might be attending.

One way of easing yourself into guilt-free breaks is to turn non-work-related, but still necessary, tasks into something fun. It doesn’t matter whether you’re racing towards deadlines, or living a care-free life, you always need to wash yourself and your dishes. Make a playlist of your favourite songs and turn dinner-making into a dance party, or treat yourself to some new toiletries and turn your shower into a spa. Before you know it, you’ll be looking forward to doing the washing-up and putting your laundry away! Using these mundane moments as down time allows you to maintain that sense of productivity that you’ve got used to, while still — hopefully — enjoying yourself. Not every break has to be a huge event.

“Not every break has to be a huge event”

Choosing when and how to take a break can feel overwhelming and you might not always feel capable of organising your social life. Remember that you’ve been working so hard and, as a result, you might not have a lot of energy to throw at your relaxation. You could take away some of the stress of having to think about when and how to switch off by building breaks into your routine. Maybe you and your friends could have much needed post-revision-hibernation catch-ups by getting into the habit of having tea at 3pm everyday, or of going for a walk each morning. Now there’s no time pressure and you’re no longer chained to your desk and laptop, you can walk as long and as far as you like; make the most of this opportunity to explore the city. Knowing that you have permanent, planned patches of repose will prevent you from worrying about whether you’re switching off enough. Your breaks don’t have to be a big deal, the most important thing is to make sure that you’re spending at least a few minutes of your day away from your room and giving your mind something simple to focus on.


Mountain View

How do I move on from my ex?

Once you’ve allowed yourself the time off, your next job is deciding what to do with it. I’ve had conversations with a few people recently about the idea of not actually knowing how to relax. Somewhat annoyingly, there is no easy one-fits-all method for taking time out. The way that we press pause is personal. Ask yourself what it is you do that makes you feel most calm. If you’re not sure, then it might be time to experiment! Do you swim, do you cook, do you crochet, do you people-watch? Whatever you choose, try to make sure that it’s something which engrosses you and, if at all possible, gets you away from your exam environment. Fill your free-time with something so preoccupying that there’s no room for guilt and concern.

“There is no easy one-fits-all method for taking time out”

My last suggestion for making sure that you’re switching off effectively might sound strange, if not a little obvious: really notice that you’re not working. Look around you and smile at the summer as you’re making your way home in the evenings, take your time over your meals, mark the moment when you make that last library trip for the grand end of exams book exorcism. They might not feel like it at the time, but these moments of magic are as much a part of your celebration as any ball or garden party. Allow yourself to enjoy sitting in the sunshine with your friends and remember that you deserve every single second of this time off.