Walking through campus as midterms near, it’s impossible to avoid the frustrated groans of “I’m drowning in work” and “I’m so done.” These comments are often interlaced with an unhealthy amount of dark humour, and even though we brush them off as jokes, the sentiments and basis of reality behind them require confrontation and an evaluation of student health. Thus, I suggest that we have one “wellness weekend” per term during which no homework is assigned.
This idea of a wellness weekend is not just a hackneyed attempt to get out of work. Breaks come with great benefits to the student body’s mental health and mood. These two days off would allow us to focus on recentering ourselves, unburdened by work. After all, during normal weekends, work is always still in the back of my mind. While spending time with friends, I often think to myself: Do I have time to finish my work? What will my Sunday night be like? My attempts to give myself a break often cause even more stress down the line for when all the work piles up. I can never truly let myself go. I cannot rest properly, nor can I work properly. Listening to the frustrated groans of my friends, I know I’m not the only one with this concern.
Wellness weekend would also release all the pent up stress and sleep deprivation that every Andover student has and give time for students to prepare for upcoming work. Stress and sleep are interconnected and feed off of one another. Even if wellness weekend would not improve a student’s better sleep habits, it can clear away built up lethargy. Even one or two nights of proper rest can change a lot.
Furthermore, wellness weekend would not take away time from learning; it would actually help it. According to an article written by Mayo Clinic, stress puts you at risk for anxiety, memory and concentration impairments, and sleep problems. These are all severe impediments to successfully and effectively studying. Each night a student endures sleeplessness and stress, their learning starts to degrade more and more. This can be compared to a machine rusting. Like any machine that has started to rust, we take time to clean and maintain it. An Andover student is no different. Wellness weekend gives us time to perform maintenance on ourselves. An Andover student that is well rested and clear minded is an Andover student that is fit for learning.
The best time for a wellness weekend would be around midterms. It would be ineffective if it were earlier in the term, as students generally have not built up enough mental stress for wellness weekend to have the most impact. It would be equally ineffective if it were too late in the term, as not enough weeks are left for the recovery to affect student wellbeing for the bulk of the term. Therefore, the best time for this time off would be the weekend after midterms. With each class having wrapped up their respective units and finished their major assessments, students can enter the second half of the term with a fresh mind.
Taking a break should not be seen as a detriment to learning more content or getting further in the curriculum. Andover must foster a culture of learning where students should not have to run themselves into the ground to achieve academic excellence. Wellness weekend will not detract from the excellence we strive for in learning, athletics, and all the other extracurriculars we pursue. Instead, think of it like a one time investment that would return amazing benefits. Maybe, just maybe, having less work isn’t too bad after all.