How to maximize relaxation and minimize risk during Spring Break

| March 14, 2024
Posted in: , ,

Spring Break is a season synonymous with relaxation, social gatherings, and travel. Nevertheless, it also represents a period where there can be high risks associated with the use of alcohol and other drugs.

In the constant whirlwind of daily responsibilities and digital overload, our minds and bodies crave downtime. Rest and self -care are critical. It’s not merely a pause but a vital component of health, enhancing cognitive function, emotional resilience, and overall physical health. It is the foundation upon which creativity and productivity flourish. Spring Break offers a time for rejuvenation and a pause from the professional and academic grind, providing a chance to replenish depleted energy reserves and restore balance.

Here are some strategies that everyone can potentially employ during Spring Break, whether you’re traveling somewhere new, visiting home, or staying on campus.

  1. Consider a digital detox. Potentially challenge yourself to take a mental break from social media. It can significantly reduce stress levels and improve sleep quality. The time you save can be used to connect with nature, dive into a delightful book, or explore mindfulness practices like meditation and yoga.
  2. Embrace nature. Immersing yourself in nature is a great way to reduce stress and enhance your mood. This could include a mountain retreat, a beach getaway, exploring local parks, or going on hikes at the local county trails. The natural world offers a tranquil backdrop for relaxation and introspection.
  3. Get some quality sleep. Without the alarm clock dictating your morning routine, Spring Break is ideal for getting enough sleep every chance you can get. Prioritize quality sleep by creating a restful environment and a relaxing bedtime routine to help reset your internal clock.
  4. Explore mindfulness and meditation. Many free and accessible resources, such as apps (including Calm, which is available for free to all Hopkins affiliates) and online tutorials, offer guided meditation and mindfulness exercises. These practices can help calm the mind, reduce anxiety, and improve focus.
  5. Nourish your body. Use this break to focus on nourishing your body with balanced meals, staying hydrated, and engaging in physical activities that you enjoy. Whether it’s preparing healthy meals at home or trying new, nutritious dishes, how you fuel your body can significantly impact how you feel.

Additionally, if you’re traveling, particularly to places where lots of people may choose to drink (and to drink in large quantities), a safe and enjoyable spring break requires a multifaceted approach, focusing on awareness, education, and harm reduction strategies. Here are some guidelines to consider:

  1. Plan ahead. Decide in advance how much alcohol (if any) you plan to consume, and stick to your decision.
  2. Stay with friends. Use the buddy system to keep an eye on each other and to make collective decisions to leave situations where substance use is getting out of hand.
  3. Avoid mixing substances. Be aware of the effects of alcohol and how it interacts with various substances, including prescription medications. Alcohol, a depressant, can interact unpredictably with other substances, leading to dangerous and even life-threatening effects. (For example, combining alcohol with Adderall and marijuana can mask the depressant effects of alcohol, leading individuals to consume more than they can safely handle.) If you are taking prescription medication, consult with a healthcare professional about your alcohol use. The safest choice is to completely avoid mixing alcohol with other drugs.
  4. Avoid binge drinking. Binge drinking, defined as consuming an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period, is particularly prevalent during Spring Break. It is defined by the CDC as having four or more drinks consumed on one occasion for people assigned female at birth, and having five or more drinks for people assigned male at birth. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 70% of students reported drinking during Spring Break, with 23.6% reporting drinking on five or more days. The immediate risks of binge drinking include alcohol poisoning, accidents, and injuries. The repercussions extend beyond the immediate, though, with potential academic, legal, and health consequences that can have a lasting impact on a student’s life.
  5. Engage in alternative activities that do not center alcohol. This could be a hike around a park, or a chill beach day.
  6. Know your resources. Keep a list of emergency contacts, including local emergency services and Hopkins emergency resources, readily available. You can also familiarize yourself with resources and support services available for students struggling with substance abuse both on and off campus.

By understanding these risks, particularly the dangers of mixing substances, students can make informed choices that prioritize their safety and well-being. Through planning, education, and the support of peers and the community, it’s possible to enjoy a memorable and safe Spring Break experience. Let’s embrace responsible behaviors and encourage a culture of care and awareness, ensuring that the cherished break remains a time of joy rather than regret.