By Sarah Fuller
Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013
How many times have you heard a coach or an instructor suggest that you “take five?” Have you ever been told to “take a breather?” College has opened my eyes to something that I’ve never really paid much attention to before: the importance of taking a break. As distinguished young women, as all of you are, I’m sure you all work hard in school to get good grades. I’m sure you practice at home to improve your skills in your sport or musical instrument. I’m sure you’re involved in many clubs and activities that sometimes become difficult to juggle. And I’m sure that you donate much of your spare time to volunteering in your community. You’re bright, motivated, and talented. And you sometimes forget to slow down!
Did you know that scientists have actually shown that taking breaks makes you more productive?! If you’ve been working on that paper for hours and you just can’t seem to write that last paragraph, or if you’ve been practicing a certain piece of music that just isn’t “clicking,” then maybe you need to take a break. Go on a short walk, read one of your favorite poems, or grab a cup of water. I never used to be willing to do this, but college has helped me realize that it’s actually very important. I started getting into the habit of staying up very late studying for a test for hours at a time. The next day, I would take the test, return to my studies, and try to check off as many assignments and chores on my to do list as I could squeeze into my day. But then I realized that I wasn’t being very productive nor was I enjoying the activities I was doing. It’s important to finish your assignments, but it’s also important to do things you enjoy and to get enough rest. When I started taking those breaks from my work, my list of things to do seemed a lot more manageable!
Recently, a few friends and I were recording a cover to a song. I was singing the harmony and for some reason, I just couldn’t get it. Well, my friend told me to take a break and come back to it another day. I didn’t want to believe him, but I tried it, and it worked! When I returned to recording, it just seemed to “click” and I was much happier with how it sounded. I’ve done the same thing with my assignments, and when I return to that paper, it seems much easier to write.
I know it may not seem like you can accomplish much if you take breaks, but it does work! Just like your muscles need to relax after working out, your mind needs time as well, especially to process everything you are learning. Don’t be afraid to schedule time to relax, to take a walk, or to do something fun with friends. You are your best self, and you deserve a few minutes once in a while to take a deep breath and to do something you enjoy. Even Distinguished Young Women need to take breaks once in a while…there is no way we could have learned that fitness routine in one day!
Sarah Fuller is a college freshman at Elizabethtown College in Elizabethtown, Pennsylvania majoring in Early Childhood Education & Special Education. Originally from Stewartstown, Pennsylvania, Sarah was a participant in the Distinguished Young Women program and was selected as the Distinguished Young Woman of Pennsylvania for 2013. Learn more about Sarah here!