Congratulations on finishing your fall semester! You may be wondering what to do with your 5.5 week break. Before you start filling your schedule with unlimited activities, extra work, and commitments, take a moment to consider how you truly rest.
Resting is the most strategic thing you can do after a semester so your brain can fully process the wealth of knowledge you’ve just obtained. Known as consolidation, your brain needs time to move memories from the hippocampus to the lobes in the brain that hold your long-term memories. An academic semester is a busy time, and most of the past few months likely still reside in the short-term memory part of your brain. Giving your mind the space to transfer that information to the long-term memory is essential to retaining the learning you earned this semester.
So what kind of rest are we talking about? This is not a call to sleep away your entire break (though you may need to catch up per some sleep deprivation). Wakeful rest is more useful for consolidation. The important thing is to let your mind process, so don’t overstimulate your brain. Walks, reading for fun, and sketching are examples of wakeful rest that will let your brain consolidate. As you begin your break, consider how you relax best and make sure to dedicate time to pursue true rest, especially for your brain.
You can read more about consolidation and wakeful rest here.