In theory, reading week is supposed to be time to rest, catch up and reset for the remainder of the term. In practice, it often turns into seven days of guilt for taking even the smallest time off to relax. But perhaps, this reading week we can break —pardon the pun — the stigma around taking a breather.
By the time reading week rolls around, the term is well underway. Students have completed a few weeks of school, course work is in full swing and midterm season has already started.
But this term, other factors also have to be taken into account.
2022 started in the thick of the COVID-19 Omicron wave, with most daily case counts in January for Saskatchewan topping 1000. That meant that, as students, the first few weeks of the winter term were online —something many students had to adjust back to from in-person classes in the fall.
Now, students find themselves in the midst of another transition. The university opened campus and returned to in-person classes in the second week of February. That has meant that many students have had their class schedule — and life schedule — shaken up a bit.
Not to mention, we each experience life differently, and depending on what is happening in yours right now, our individual circumstances might make this time all the more stressful.
Given all of this, as we arrive at the start of the reading week break, I think we could all do with a little break. But as we take the time to relax, why do we feel the guilt start to settle in?
I think part of the reason is how we think about reading week.
Generally, the purpose of reading week is framed to be a time for school work and rest. However, we tend to stress the importance of the first objective — school work — over the second.
With this outlook, it’s no surprise that students who take time to rest experience guilt.
This disproportionate emphasis points to a larger issue at play — we don’t give breaks the value they deserve.
The benefits to rest are numerous and important, no matter how you choose to do it. Resting helps us recharge our batteries, manage stress and take care of ourselves mentally and physically.
These benefits are not only important to our well-being but will also prove to be invaluable for the end of the term.
Think about it — immediately after reading week, there are midterms to be written and assignments to be completed. Not so far in the distance are project deadlines and final exams.
To be able to do our best, the last stretch of the term requires both our energy and 100 per cent in terms of mental and physical health.
Giving yourself some time this break also opens the door to reflection. Take some time to think about how your courses are going, what’s working, what’s not and plan the next few weeks of life. This reflection and planning will go a long way and should be thought of as a good use of break.
If some part of your break is spent resting, it shouldn’t be thought of as a waste of time. Rather, on top of rest being a necessity, it can be thought of as preparation for the weeks to come.
The reading week can also be a time to remind ourselves of who we are outside of school. Take a moment to do what makes you happy — a hobby, some time with friends and family or a nap. I will be doing the latter.
The answer to if it is possible to have a guilt-free break is not straightforward. But if we start by thinking of breaks as essential for ourselves and to the term ahead, perhaps we’ve made a break in the case for a guilt-free reading week — pardon the pun again.
This op-ed was written by a University of Saskatchewan undergraduate student and reflects the views and opinions of the writer. If you would like to write a reply, please email email@example.com. Vaidehee Lanke is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying bioinformatics and is the Opinions Editor at The Sheaf Publishing Society.