As classes end and finals begin, most students simply want to log off and forget about their responsibilities until August rolls around. Honestly, after this semester, I don’t blame anyone for needing a break – and a long one at that. 

The American Psychological Association’s Stress in America study reported that 87% of college students said their education is a major cause of stress in their lives. 

It feels like we’ve been constantly moving from one task to the other with no time to take a second to breathe. Summer is supposedly the time to relax, slow down and recuperate for the upcoming school year. 

Yet, summer isn’t truly a break is it? Summer is the time for internships, jobs and career preparation. Summer is the time where we don’t have classes, so we can fill our time with other forms of work and fall back into the same cycle we were in before. 

Don’t get me wrong – I enjoy staying busy and developing skills to help me in my future career, but it’s daunting to think of my life as a never-ending cycle of school, work, eat, sleep, repeat. 

This repetition is exhausting, and now that classes are almost done, all I want to do is shut my computer off and not look at it until next semester starts. But I, like many other students, can’t do that. I have other responsibilities that are not over just because the semester ends. 

Where does that leave us? This is just the beginning of our professional careers, and work-life balance is something we must understand now so we can save ourselves from burning out in the future

A Quick Side Note 

I must preface this discussion with a note about work and rest. It’s important to rest this summer. We shouldn’t be focused on constantly working throughout the summer without a chance to rest our minds and bodies. If you’re feeling stressed, burned out and exhausted, you can – and should take time to simply exist without feeling the need to be productive. You’re not a bad student or worker or person if you need to rest. Life is difficult and sometimes the best thing we can do is focus on ourselves. 

With that being said, there are some simple tips for you to remain motivated this summer, so you are ready for the upcoming semester.

Reflect on Yourself and Your Work Habits 

Summer brings more free time, and it’s imperative you understand how you work and what motivates you to keep going. Take time to journal, reflect and process. While you’re still in school, figure out what you want to get out of your future career, what kind of work environment you thrive in and what you want to do in your life. 

Here are some prompts to reflect on:

  • What environment do I work the best in? 
  • What qualities do I value in a job?
  • What level of hustle am I willing to put into my job? 
  • How do I want to balance work and my personal life? 
  • What goals/aspirations do I have apart from work? 
  • How can I set myself up to achieve those personal goals? 

Those are just some initial questions to ask yourself, so you can enter the upcoming semester with a clear vision for your future. 

Invest Time into Developing Hobbies and Skills

You are more than just a worker, and you can take this time to develop hobbies or skills that interest you. Even if these activities are not focused on your future career, they are still important for your personal wellbeing. 

Staying motivated doesn’t have to mean doing things that are for your professional development. You can read, knit, pick up a sport, finally take that photography class or learn about that subject you’ve always been interested in. 

Now is the time to explore your interests that you don’t have time to explore during the school semester. Enjoy this time and use it to do things you want to do. 

Give Yourself Tasks to Complete Throughout the Week

Set to-do lists for yourself to avoid falling into the trap of being on your phone for hours upon hours of the day. You can make them daily or weekly to-do’s. The list can be as simple as: do laundry, go to the grocery store, read 50 pages of that book or call Mom. 

Creating structure in your summer schedule prepares you for the structure of the upcoming semester. It’s difficult to transition from no structure in the summer to a full set of classes and work in the fall. Discipline yourself now, over the summer so you’re not struggling to get back on track when classes begin again. 

Final Thoughts

I hope this discussion encourages you, and reminds you that you are not alone. This is a stressful time in our lives, and it feels like we’re drowning in the stress of classes, work and overall unrest in society. 

I hope you take this time to be kind to yourself, and recuperate after a long school year. We only have this one life, so treat yourself well and allow yourself to rest when you need it.