There is only one major event of winter break left: the New Year. After that, we’ve lived through the greater part of winter celebrations: the bustle of Boxing Day, the joyful festivities, the cheerfulness of family gatherings -- all gone. Soon everything will quiet down, and you might wonder to yourself: “No more jam-packed holiday schedules… So what do I do now?” Want to fill this post-holiday void? Then read these strategies for having a fulfilling and enjoyable part 2 of winter break!

Do some “catching up”.

Admit it: we all have homework or extra-curricular work that we are lagging behind on. Thus, this final week is definitely an opportunity for us -- overworked and stressed secondary students -- to take a breath and catch up. Take advantage of this week to finish any work you have, or study for any tests looming on the horizon. Write that English essay so you don’t have to work on it at 1 a.m. the day it is due! You will appreciate having spent plenty of time preparing for it when you get a great score!

Complete the tasks you never had time doing.

Oftentimes, school can consume our lives that we don’t have time for anything else. Now that school is temporarily out of the way, give yourself some time to think about the activities that you’ve unprioritized because of school. Perhaps now that you are unburdened by school work, you notice that your desk and floor are a paper scattered mess? Spend a few minutes and restore order to your room. Maybe you’ve always wanted to marathon all the Lord of the Rings movies?  Turn on your laptop, settle into the couch with your cat, whom you haven’t properly petted in a while, snuggled on your lap. Want to re-enact a DIY tutorial you saw the other day? Let your creativity run free. When life gives you a week off, use it to do some things you don’t normally expect yourself to do.

Have some “me” time.

Take a break from the hustle and bustle of school life; you’ll be able to lower your stress level and recharge your batteries. Focus on yourself, and devise strategies that eradicate your negative emotions. Take part in relaxing activities: take a long bath, watch a TV show, write in your journal, or re-read your favourite book. Watch the snow fall, or sleep the entire day if you need to. School can be taxing, and you definitely deserve some time to care for your mental health.

Go outside.

There is no better time to enjoy the winter wonderland! Grab your friends, siblings, or pets, and have fun outdoors. Re-enact your childhood by organizing snowball battles, making snow angels, or building an impressive snow fort. At the end of the day, although you will feel sore and utterly exhausted, the memories of running in the winter wind will energize you when you are trapped in front of your desk finishing a chemistry post-lab.

Also, think of the people and animals who are forced to be in the cold. If possible, join your local shelter or soup kitchen in delivering winter clothing, blankets, and hot meals to the homeless. If you prefer to not leave your house for a long period of time, you can still make a difference in your neighbourhood! Refill your bird feeders, and leave food, water (add a little bit of sugar so the water freezes slower), and a cardboard box with a blanket in it for the furry critters. Winter is the time where a small gesture of kindness can make a huge lasting difference.

Warning: ALWAYS dress appropriately for the weather and be aware of your surroundings. IF EXTREME COLD WARNINGS OR WHITEOUT CONDITIONS ARE PRESENT, DO NOT GO OUTSIDE.

When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade; when life give you a week of rest -- which in my opinion, is superior to lemons --  you take some time to enjoy and revitalize yourself.  

Happy New Year, and may you start off your 2017 with positivity and possibilities!

--Jessica

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