Spring break offers much needed mental break


Emma Decker

After months of winter weather, spring break gives students a chance to reset before finishing off the rest of the school year. The warm weather, relaxation and break from their typical routine gives students physical and mental benefits.

Sarah Abdullah, Social Media Manager

Spring break is typically scheduled in March as a relief from the constant cycle students face of cramming in homework, juggling extracurriculars and preparing for exams. The timing is crucial as it breaks up the last semester of school and gives students a glimpse of summer. This break is often overlooked for its benefits for students.

Students spend 10 months of the year in school trapped in a cyclical day-to-day routine. The two months of summer are nearly the only break, regarded by students as a sense of freedom. This can cause students to feel like they are just going through the motions for a majority of the year.

Experiencing this routine for months on end can be exhausting and lead to negative effects for students. Especially in the Midwest, throwing in the bitter cold weather can lead to depression and feeling lonely during the winter months. The Cleveland Clinic calls this Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD). This is triggered by the change of seasons and can result in lack of energy, sadness, and loss of interest in activities. Half a million people in the United States suffer from SAD and, “about 10% to 20% of people in America may get a milder form of the winter blues,” the Cleveland Clinic found.

The state of isolation and lack of motivation caused by the lack of sunlight and repetitive days has resulted in students’ depression reaching an all time high. In Feb 2021 a study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stated that, among teenage girls, 57% reported experiencing “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness in the past year.” This rate has reached levels we’ve never seen before and is up from the rate of 36% in 2011.

Spring break is often thought of as just a week of fun, relaxation and vacationing. However, there are physical and mental benefits that students receive from this break. Senior Siena Roethler believes this break is a time for students to unwind. “Seasonal depression is something I have always struggled with and something I believe many struggle with. I think people kind of find it stupid or just an excuse to want to go somewhere warm but it really can affect your mood and mental health,” Roethler said.

“In high school spring break was always something I felt I didn’t just want but I needed. To go get some sun and warmth just made me come back to school so much more energized and happy to do more,” Roethler said.

Roethler is a senior and recently made the decision of where she wants to continue her education. “I always had the dream of going somewhere warm. I have had many friends go outside the Midwest and fell in love and believe it has significantly increased their mood. I committed to a college in North Carolina because I truly believe the weather will help my mental health,” Roethler said.

When in a cold climate, it can become difficult to find ways to get outside and take in fresh air. Having a week in a warm environment allows students to regain Vitamin D, serotonin and melatonin levels. The internal effects are supported by science too—a study from Georgetown University found that being in the sun increases T cell movement, which strengthens the immune system.

PVHS physical education teacher Angie Musal is an advocate for getting students moving everyday. She believes during cold months, it becomes harder to find options for students to be active. “The break between winter and summer is very important for students because it gives them a chance to get outside after months of cold weather,” Musal continued. “The sunshine is beneficial for everyone’s well-being and staying active is crucial to mental and physical health. The week off makes the rest of the school year more manageable and helps students to come back refreshed.” 

Enduring months of cold weather can be detrimental to the brain as many necessary neurotransmitters aren’t released. Soaking in the sun and getting active outside helps students to return back to school and finish off the year with a refreshed mindset.