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Extending feelings of rest and recreation after a break

We asked our Editors to write about how they extend feelings of rest and recreation after a break.

This is one of their responses:

Graphic text reads From the PhD Balance editors extending feelings of rest and recreation after a break.

Have you ever come back from a vacation or semester break that was filled with joyful, fun and relaxing things to only find you fall back into full stress mode within very few days or – even worse – within a few hours on your first day back at uni? Where did all the energy you'd gained during your holidays with so much effort go?!

We, unfortunately, know this feeling too well, too. Here are some tips I've collected and developed over the years, holiday after holiday, on how to preserve the feelings of rest and recreation after a break for a little longer.

  1. Have the next vacation or day trip planned and scheduled in your calendar already. It helps to have a specific date and activity to look forward to. (In German, there is a specific term 'Vorfreude' – a pleasant feeling of anticipation – for this!)

  2. Ask yourself, what elements of the vacation did I enjoy in particular? Is this something that I can bring into my daily life? Try to schedule one or two of these elements into your week – and, again, gain some energy from feeling Vorfreude! Some examples for those elements are: Finding unknown streets or areas in your hometown, listening to the sound of bagpipes, doing touristy things like visiting a museum, sights, or a free walking tour, or – if you're missing a specific country and its food – find a restaurant or supermarket + recipes to bring a piece of this country to your home. There are a thousand more possibilities: please have fun with getting creative!

  3. If you left your hometown for the vacation, it helps to plan an extra day off at the end, to have a smooth transition into your home routine and also time enough to get your stuff sorted and the workday ahead planned.

  4. Speaking of planning the workday: Keep the contrast between holiday-life and work-life as low as possible to give your mind and body a chance to adjust. Moving from relaxation mode to work mode is hard – ideally, it's a slow transition, not an immediate switch! If it is possible and in your hand at all, leave your schedule for the first day empty, so you have time to catch up with what has happened during your absence.


Thank you so much to Laura for this piece!

Laura Klask is a physicist specializing in nuclear physics and biomedical techniques based in Cologne, Germany. After receiving her master’s degree she started and quit a PhD program because it turned out it wasn’t the right thing for her - a difficult but good decision. For PhD Balance, she is the Content and Editing Co-Lead!


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