Contrary to popular belief, spring break can be more than the cliche stereotype that travel and liquor companies promote—you know the one with tropical destination, parties, oversized beach-balls and questionable decisions. For those who are more discerning, short on cash, or have perhaps signed a declaration of Christian community, spring break looks different, but it still can be an immensely satisfying time of restoration and refreshment.
Spring break is really about rest. It is easy to neglect in the day-to-day rush. Classes, homework, work-work and other obligations fight over the hours like an unhinged game of Hungry Hungry Hippos. There are a thousand alerts and posts demanding your attention but the only thing that you cannot get "on-demand" is regenerative rest. Even when you have a quiet moment, it's easy to fill it flipping between apps or doing something that occupies attention without actually re-energizing. Resting is not inaction, but rather it is investing energy in an activity that yields more energy. It takes time and some discipline, but spring break is a perfect time to practice.
Of course, physical rest is a big part of the equation. Without physical rest, your body literally begins to shut down. Your immune system is hindered, your heart is strained, and your metabolism slows. Simply put, you need sleep if you want to live well.
Exercise is important for quality physical rest. This may be counter intuitive and the last thing you want to do when you feel worn down but it can really improve your quality of sleep. Sweating it out increases circulation, relaxes the body and helps clear the mind. So go for a hike or take a bike trip, and then hit the hay for a long vernal nap.
It can be more difficult to tell when you need mental rest, but it is just as important, if not more so. Just like your body, your mind needs rest to function and process information effectively.
The temptation is to just plug-in, reassure Netflix for the third time that you are still watching, and tune-out but that probably won't leave you feeling energized. A better strategy is to change up the kind of tasks on which your mind is used to working. After a long semester of analytical learning, try something more creative like playing an instrument, reading (for fun) or cooking. Work with your hands to plant or build something. By changing up routines you actually work different areas of your brain.
It is important to note that even God made time to reflect and appreciate the good things He made. It is one of the first things we read about Him in Genesis 2:2.
"And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done."
Think about that. God took a "personal day", not to be mindless and lazy, but to appreciate and enjoy His work. Rest is so important that He instituted a whole day for it with the third of the Ten Commandments.
Taking time to remember God's blessings and His promises gives context to our lives. In these moments, we are able to align our priorities with God's and rediscover joy and contentment, even in the midst of challenges.
Like mental and physical rest, spiritual rest can come in different shapes and sizes. Sweeping aside distractions to find your quiet time with the Lord is an extremely helpful practice. If moving around is more your style, volunteer for service opportunities. Plug into godly community and spend time with other believers who will encourage and speak truth to you.
Spring break is about stepping outside of our routines to return with a renewed enthusiasm for what God is doing in our lives and an appreciation for the work that we are able to accomplish. Whether it is for a week, the weekend, or just an hour between classes, the discipline of rest can make a big impact on life. So, wherever spring break takes you, enjoy it. Thank God for it and rest well.