Illustration by Shenuka Corea

REACH Column: The Importance of Taking a Break

In the midst of the busyness and routine at NYUAD, it is just as important to pause and take time for yourself.

Nov 5, 2017

Break. The word that sends college student’s hearts into a flurry of joy. As the student population returns to campus from their fall break adventures, and the photos of Georgia and Lebanon continue to flood social media timelines, it seems like a fitting time to reflect upon what it really means to take a break.
Life at NYU Abu Dhabi can be hectic — that is not a secret. It can feel like a never-ending cycle of class, sleep, eat, repeat. Throw in some extracurriculars, job or internship applications and any semblance of a social life, and the stress adds up. So it’s not surprising that the excitement of break sweeps through the campus each semester as the halfway point approaches. During midterms the silence of the library was deafened by the constant murmur from students — Only x more days, and then I get a break. The scheduled breaks are a shining beacon to many of us, holding the promise of no school for a fleeting few days before returning to classes. For others, break can still be really stressful because their professors assign large projects and essays due during or just after break. This is a time when it is so important to take care of your stress.
Taking a break is one of the best ways to care for yourself, and you don’t have to wait for the academic calendar to give you one. Breaks come in all shapes and sizes. There are longer designated breaks such as fall break. These allow students to take a large chunk of time away from studies to rejuvenate and prepare for the rest of the semester. Long breaks are wonderful; however, it is the smaller breaks taken in day to day life that really make a difference. Study breaks are a prime example. It is easy to fall into the trap of working for hours on end when assignments pile up, but taking breaks can actually make you more productive and improve your grades. It lets your mind rest, it helps you feel more energized, and it divides longer stretches of work into more manageable chunks of time. Just be careful not to let those 10 minutes turn into 10 episodes of a series on Netflix.
There are other ways to take a break. Sometimes taking a break can be setting aside time during the day for you to do something you want that is entirely unrelated to classes or other commitments. When asked about what she does to take a break, Jumana Ibrahim, Class of 2021, said, “I like to read and write poetry.” A few minutes to yourself can help keep you balanced when life gets hectic. Another type of break can be stepping back from things or activities that are causing you stress. Taking a break from social media can also help you focus on what you want and how you want to spend your time, instead of letting notifications decide for you. For Michael Rosenthal, Class of 2019, breaks help him realize who he is as a person. “The distinction lies in the times I’m not working — then who am I?” Rosenthal asked. All of these are equally valid ways to take a break, and it shows how breaks can serve different purposes in different students’ lives.
Breaks are not something that only exist when the school designates them. They are always an option. Each person has a different way of taking a break. Some people like to exercise, others like to read a book and a few may even stop using Facebook. It is up to you to figure out what works best. Breaks of any form are an important part of taking care of yourself on a day-to-day basis. The only question left is, Why wait seven weeks to give yourself some well-deserved rest when you can take 10 minutes off right now?
Mia Mancuso is a contributing writer. Email her at
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