By Nick Yates, ISB Communications
Grades 9 to 12 at the International School of Beijing (ISB) are about to enjoy a Wellness Weekend, a break from regular academic work to benefit their social-emotional health.
Counselors and faculty at ISB know such initiatives are important for balance in students’ lives. Teachers have not assigned any work or tests due on Monday or Tuesday of next week. There may be some longer-term projects due around that time. On Wellness Weekends, students can opt to do whatever they need to do to ensure their wellness, knowing that this contributes to academic performance.
Here are some ISB students’ ideas for how to use Wellness Weekends and their impressions of how they benefited from past Wellness Weekends. The students were speaking before a Wellness Weekend in October, but what they said could apply at any time of year.
Catch up on sleep
“During the Wellness Weekend, I am planning to sleep and rest a lot,” said Sally K, Grade 10. “This will refresh my body and brain.”
Lynn C, Grade 12, said she spent time during one Wellness Weekend “reflecting on what I did the past week and what I might do the next week. This helped me plan what I needed to do.”
Indulge in hobbies
This was a common answer from all the students, not surprising as ISB encourages its learners to try lots of activities and discover what they really find interesting.
Lynn C was looking forward to volleyball practice in the October Wellness Weekend.
Spend time with family
One of Sally K’s favorite memories from a Wellness Weekend was taking time for a big family dinner. “It strengthened the relationship with my family and lowered my stress level.”
Socialize with friends
“I am planning to spend the Wellness Weekend going out with my friends,” said Daniel L, Grade 11. “This will be a great opportunity to grab a lunch and have a talk with my friends. It will provide me a mental break from academic work.”
Try something new
Several students recommended their peers try something they have always wanted to do but never found the time.
Fill in the gaps in your studies
According to Sally K, Wellness Weekends are a good chance for students to revise anything they didn’t really understand during class. “In this way, you would be able to improve on that subject.”
Speaking during a busy period for college applications, Grade 12 student Emory S said he would be using the two days to try to secure an acceptance for his dream college: “I’ll be polishing every part of my application and making sure that it’s the best it can be.”
And the expert view…
ISB’s High School counselors said in a statement, “Taking a pause from the constant activity of work and study helps us to prioritize what is important. Breaks give our brains necessary rest, which fosters creativity and flexible thinking, increases memory, and strengthens resilience. Creating that necessary distance from study and stress is essential for emotional stability and higher level cognition.
“Experts know that short bursts of stress can be motivating, but chronic stress, unabated stress, can cause health problems and result in a constant state of ‘reactivity,’ where the individual’s responses often result from feelings of anxiety rather than from strength. Individuals experiencing chronic stress can find even small tasks overwhelming and can have a hard time handling daily demands that would otherwise be easily managed.
“Breaks help us recover. They give us the chance to process the thoughts we think and emotions we feel, and let us re-center our priorities and our needs. Wellness Weekends are designed to interrupt the stress cycle by giving students a chance to physically rest, time to focus on family and social relationships, and be kind to themselves.”