How To Relax These Holidays Without Succumbing to Existential Dread and the Great Void of Nothingness

Art by Rose Dixon-Campbell

Disclaimer: Honestly written as a reminder to myself but I guess you can read it too


So…your exams are done…now what? Maybe you were the first of your friends to be done, or maybe you were the last. Or maybe, you were one of those enviable people who get to say things like “what exams? My last assignment was a group presentation!” in which case, tell me what subject IMMEDIATELY. Either way, you’re staring down the long, long stretch of uni break in the short, short days of Canberra winter. And you have practically nothing to do except to scroll TikTok endlessly (or if you’re a real adult you’re watching them when they get reposted to IG reels 3 weeks later).

Here are the basics: keep a regular routine, eat healthy(ish) and go on your silly little walk for your silly little mental health. After you recover from your silly little bout of hayfever, resist the urge to fall victim to endless scrolling on your phone. 

To do that: read a book, meditate, and do yoga, all at once! Read The Art of War while holding downward dog and think to yourself “wow! I am so grateful to be alive today!” on loop for twenty min-

Haha. Just kidding. While reading, meditation and yoga are all pretty good ways to de-stress, they’re not for everyone. Sure, you’d be able to do it once, but as far as building a holiday routine or habit? Not sustainable. Instead, pull up a chair, get comfortable and tell me about yourself. Uh. Not that close please, no knees touching until at least the second date. Wow…looking closely, you have really expressive eyes…do you get that often?… Ahem. 

Anyways, you probably fall into two categories of people when it comes to de-stressing during break, so let me give you some advice on how to relax:

Are you the type of person to have a study plan for your exams? Do you write-in commitments (even hangs with your friends) into your calendar? Is your calendar, by any chance, synced so you can access it from any device? If so, I’ll pay you $50 to teach me your ways and also

Organised, structure loving, maybe a little more anxious than you’re willing to let on: You’re going to have no problem at all establishing a regular routine in your break. You probably are working, picking up some more shifts, or asking for additional responsibilities. Either that, or you’ve already enrolled in a Summer course, or God forbid, an Autumn course that’s already commenced. 

For you, relaxing is just another thing to put on the agenda: time blocked out. You’d enjoy things that make you feel productive, even in your down time, lest the guilt of doing nothing consume you. Now… delete that email that signs you up for another commitment. Instead, book a day trip by yourself or with friends, really packing out your whole day with activities (if you’re doing this with friends make sure they’re the kind of people that won’t mind sticking to The Plan). Maybe you’ll do brunch from 9am-11am with a 15-minute travel time (oh but with an additional 7-minute leeway just in case) to get to a ceramics class at 11:30am. If you’re not keen to spend that much money, why not host brunch instead at home? You can wake up at 7am or 8am to start making pancakes. Each friend can host their own ‘workshop’ activity, sharing a skill with everyone else.

And after a thoroughly exhausting-in-a-fun-way day, spend the next two days recovering by reading a book or playing a video game curled up on the couch, guilt free(ish). You had a Special Big Day, you can now justify spending some time to yourself, for yourself.

On the other hand, are you described as the chaotic friend? Do you enjoy doing 101 things at any given time, so that you’re never really left alone with your thoughts? Do you want to spend your down time ‘well’ but feel guilty for ending up just scrolling on social media for 6 hours? 

Spontaneous, fun loving and driven, you have a lot of passion for a lot of things and find yourself with too many options and not a great system for making choices. Advice like “pick up a hobby” to keep yourself busy during the break is intuitive to you. However, picking the right hobby? Not so much. Where is your crochet hook exactly…?

So how do you get some structure in your break while still having the spontaneous fun you love? Well…do something new every day but at a certain set time each day or each week. Try and estimate how long it’ll take—if it’ll take 4 hours then only give it 4 hours! Time limits on things you enjoy doesn’t really sound like an intuitive way to have fun…but it is (Source: trust me bro). If you start crocheting a granny square cardigan (one of my projects that I’ve been meaning to do since uh…let’s not talk about that) but you’re saying to yourself “I’ll do it anytime; I have the whole holidays”. You will not do it any time. You simply will not. It will be just yarn kicked under your bed. But if you’re like “I’ll do it at least 4 times a week and always while I watch an episode of something after dinner?” Then it’s more likely to get done and actually become a source of fun instead of you getting to the end of the break and going damn I really did nothing…

That’s not to say to not give into spontaneous lunches with friends or random 3-hour walks to contemplate life. Just make sure you still get a sense of purpose from the time that passes in the holidays too!

Make things to look forwards to every day in the holidays! Time will pass regardless of whether we’re ready for it or not; and I know I’d much rather pass it in a way that makes me feel fulfilled and actually do memorable things. And this time, I SWEAR my crochet cardigan is getting finished…

Maybe I’ll make it a vest instead.

We acknowledge the Ngunnawal and Ngambri people, who are the Traditional Custodians of the land on which Woroni, Woroni Radio and Woroni TV are created, edited, published, printed and distributed. We pay our respects to Elders past and present. We acknowledge that the name Woroni was taken from the Wadi Wadi Nation without permission, and we are striving to do better for future reconciliation.