Relax and Recharge: An Instructor's Guide to Savoring Spring Break

Labster created this guide to share easy and affordable ideas for recharging your batteries during Spring Break.

While their students are hitting the beach during spring break, faculty have their own needs for rest and relaxation. This guide has ideas for travel, staycations, and activities that make the most of your golden week between mid-terms and commencement. Check it out!

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Relax and Recharge: An Instructor's Guide to Savoring Spring Break

Labster created this guide to share easy and affordable ideas for recharging your batteries during Spring Break.

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Introduction

While their students are hitting the beach during spring break, faculty have their own needs for rest and relaxation. This guide has ideas for travel, staycations, and activities that make the most of your golden week between mid-terms and commencement. Check it out!

Contents

Find Out How Your Peers Are Spending Spring Break

Curious about what other science educators will be doing? We were, too. We invited Lab Partners in the Labster Community Campus to tell us how they'll be spending spring break. Here are some of the most popular answers: 

  • “Going the beach, spending time with friends, and being outside more”  
  • “Traveling to California to visit friends and do some hiking”  
  • “Decompressing and doing as little as possible”  
  • “I am actually hosting a state qualifier judging contest and then will try to recoup the rest of break!” 
  • “I am using the time to get caught up on a TON of emails and back work.” 

Spring Break Mindfulness Practice

We asked Rebecca Block, MS, CHES®, CHWP, Director of the campus-wide Mindful University Project at the University of Rochester, to share some ways faculty can enhance their well-being over Spring Break. Here is what she offered:

  • Recognize the Power of Your Well-being: The most important step in taking care of yourself is recognizing that your well-being is very important. Not only does it benefit you personally, but it also enhances your work quality, teaching effectiveness, and the overall well-being of your students, colleagues, and loved ones.
  • Practice Mindfulness: Engage in regular moments of mindfulness to center yourself and reduce stress. This could include taking a few deep belly breaths at the beginning of every day and sporadically throughout the day. This practice can help anchor you in the present moment and calm your mind amidst the busyness of the day. 
  • Do Daily ‘Battery Checks’: Just like electronic devices, we also require recharging. Take moments throughout your day to assess your energy and mental state. Respond accordingly, whether it's going for a walk or connecting with a loved one for a chat.
  • Take Nature Breaks: Spend time outdoors, perhaps by taking a walk, to appreciate the rejuvenating effects of nature. Vitamin D from sunlight can boost your energy and mood! Pay attention to each step you take, the sensations in your feet, and the sights and sounds around you. Walking mindfully can help clear your mind and rejuvenate your energy.
  • Use Daily Affirmations: You can repeat to yourself phrases such as "I am enough," "I am competent and capable," and "I make a difference in my students’ lives" to remind yourself of your worth and cultivate positive energy. Often, educators don't give themselves enough compassion or credit, yet their role in students' lives is vital.

* Ready for more? Catch Rebecca Block’s keynote at Labster’s Science ImmersED Conference on May 2 at 12:00 pm ET! 

3 Spring Break Last-Minute Travel Ideas 

It’s not too late to get away - and get a great bargain! 

1. Book a Last-Minute Cruise: 

https://www.vacationstogo.com/ 

2. Reserve Your Home Away from Home with a Last-Minute Airbnb or Vrbo Deal: 

https://sponstayneous.com/ 

3. Explore Other Last-Minute Vacation Packages:

https://www.golastminute.com/packages/

4 Spring Break Staycation Ideas

You don’t need a ticket to savor spring break - it’s easy to relax and recharge right at home!

1. Set the Mood

Join Rachel Richards for a self-massage to boost your mood, alleviate anxiety, and make you feel like it’s spring, no matter the forecast! 

2. Watch Fun, Beautiful, Legendary Things

Science For Evil Geniuses explores the kind of scientific questions and theories you might expect from a typical megalomaniac with ambitions for world domination and an obsessive love of cats.

From the turtles of the Farasan Islands to the ibex that dot the Asir Mountains, this visually stunning documentary captures Saudi Arabia's diverse wildlife and scenery. 

  • Taylor Swift | The Era’s Tour (Taylor’s Version) [Disney+]

Included here for the benefit of all educators whose teaching, research, and lab time have precluded concert-going - explore the phenomenon your students, peers, Travis Kelce, and the rest of the world find so captivating! 

3. Unplug to Explore a Relaxing Activity 

  • Salt Therapy

Often combined with sound and color therapy, halotherapy provides a soothing and relaxing atmosphere. Check out this state-by-state listing of salt therapy spas to find one near you!

  • Yoga with Adriene

Join Adriene in March as she explores “the magnificent power of an exhalation.” You will find a thoughtful curation of practices that range from breath-centric hatha yoga to vinyasa yoga, to individually focused pranayama technique videos - all to build your vocabulary and learn how breathing effectively changes your brain state. 

4. Try a Refreshing New Hobby

  • Elevate Your Cocktail Game with a Science-Driven Approach from Serious Eats

To make homemade drinks that stand up to any you might order in a fancy bar, apply the essential pointers and bartender wisdom contained in this free, handy guide.

  • Learn How to Dance On Rhythm

If you don’t know how to find the beat, you have no rhythm and you’d like to know how to dance with rhythm to any song, then this free video mini-course is for you. 

  • Woodwork for Humans with Rex Kruger

Woodworking doesn't need to be intimidating and you don't need a ton of tools. People have been making things out of wood for thousands of years, and they did it with simple tools and techniques. These videos will show you how. 

Self-Test: Do You Need to Relax & Recharge or Do You Need to Heal from Faculty Burnout?

Burnout in the clinical sense is a different beast than the kind of exhaustion you feel near the end of classes. The World Health Organization (WHO) classifies burnout as a syndrome that results from "chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed" characterized by 1) feelings of exhaustion, 2) cynicism related to one's job, and 3) reduced professional efficacy. 

There are many contributing factors to faculty burnout. For example, women faculty in STEM may be disproportionately impacted by unresolved work and interpersonal conflicts, resulting "in a hostile work environment for faculty women, who were labeled 'difficult' and hard to get along with', according to a study by Daphne Pederson and Krista Lynn Minnotte (2017). 

If any of these descriptions sound like they might describe you, consider taking this free, non-diagnostic self-assessment. If you’re interested in learning more about the kind of burnout experienced by faculty as they pursue academic careers, read Rebecca Pope-Ruark's research-packed personal exploration, Unraveling Faculty Burnout.  

Save the Date: Take Another Break Before Commencement 

If your calendar is crammed with meetings, classes, and “other duties” from the end of spring break until it’s time to rehearse for those end-of-year ceremonies, we invite you to take a moment right now to block out the afternoons of May 29 and 30 from 12 - 6 pm ET

That’s when you can drop in on Science ImmersEd, the free virtual conference for STEM educators sponsored by Labster. Join us for an immersive experience featuring networking sessions, interactive think tanks, inspiring discussions about the science of learning, and empowering coaching segments including Rebecca Block’s keynote “Equipping Faculty with Mindful Leadership Practices to Create Well-Being in Learning Environments” and Dr. Rebecca Pope-Ruark’s keynote and workshop session based on Unraveling Faculty Burnout

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