DISCLAIMER: Anisha is a fictional character, hence any Anisha who feels offended, please don't take it personally. Also, my sister is a nerd, so do not argue with your parents about a Goa trip before exams unless you have finished studying the entire syllabus.
A week before my birthday, my sister came up to me and asked me to plan a Goa trip to celebrate. My conditioned reflex was to slam her head. Naturally, I assumed she was kidding. I grinned and asked her to immerse herself into her textbooks again. It wasn't until the following day when I was informed that my father had already booked our tickets the previous night.
I was awestruck when I stormed into her room to ask her if all of this was a huge prank. I bombarded her with numerous questions. Very placidly, she sat me down and said something that inspired me to research more. She said, "I have studied enough for a whole year; now it's time to go on a vacation and clear my mind. It will help me concentrate better." The theme- 'Does a vacation help you focus better?' interested me immensely, and I decided to interview her and conduct a study about the same after we returned.
I asked her a bunch of questions to analyze the impact of traveling on her mental stability.
Why do you think you needed this getaway?
"Look, I genuinely studied thoroughly for a year without any distractions. My brain's capacity to learn and remember was satiated, and that is why I just needed a getaway to reinvigorate myself. I needed a change of environment, a temporary escape from my anxiety and stress due to exams. I was so tired of everyone pestering me with the same advice for a year now. Just for a few days, I didn't want to become "melancholic" after memorizing Antonio's depressing dialogues or slog myself to remember the chemical equations or functions of the Rajya Sabha. Your birthday was just a golden excuse.
What was their reaction every time you told someone that you were going to Goa a month before the board exams?
"They were as shocked as you were when you found out. Everyone thought that I was either joking or out of my senses. My friends developed a huge respect for my parents. A few of our relatives said that they gave their children freedom but not by putting their future at stake and supporting them in such situations. I was also very annoyed that everyone suddenly began juxtaposing you and me. They started asking me to seek inspiration from you and score as well as you did. Do you remember when Anisha shared her experience about how she couldn't study for a day because of a wedding and then fell sick due to the stress of covering the syllabus? I cannot imagine the number of people who tremendously judged my parents and me and thought of us to be careless."
Didn't you consider cancelling the trip after hearing such comments? What was your reaction to all of this?
"Initially, I did consider not coming along because everyone's reaction was pressuring me and making me question myself, whether I could actually afford to go or not. Everyone was literally cautioning mom and dad. However, I thought that no one but I knew how much and how well I had studied. I also made a timetable before leaving and scheduled my entire syllabus. I was confident that I had revised the whole syllabus at least once. I think I am old enough to prioritize and manage my tasks. So, I decided to go with the flow.
How did you convince mom and dad?
"Astonishingly, they were the ones who suggested that the two of us, along with our cousins, go on a vacation to celebrate your birthday. When I reminded them about my exams, mom prudently said that "Whether we lock you in a room and force you to study or send you on vacation before exams, eventually you will score according to your efforts. Our stringentness will totally be futile because you are old enough now. You will be the one appearing for your exams, and we have seen you and Aashna fixate on studies for the past year. We realise that you are not taking your exams for granted. The both of you will loosen up a bit.." Dad was the one who later sent me a video about how travelling improves mental stability. So in a way, they convinced me to take you and escape.
How did the trip affect your mental stability and concentration?
"Honestly, I was super nonchalant in Goa. You're aware that we partied as if we were free of all responsibilities. It felt good to feel that way. But, upon returning, I drilled into my brain that now we were back to square one. I have to admit that I was still in the vacation zone for a day, but after that, I persistently committed myself to the massive 'ICSE 10 Years Papers' book. I can promise you that my mind felt fresher and happier. Certainly, I could retain everything easily, study willingly, and feel invigorated. I was able to achieve my daily goals, and my calculations in math genuinely got better. It was more of a relieving change."
This was the most extended conversation I had with my sister without raising my voice at her.
Anyway, after interviewing her, I researched a bit about the significance of giving yourself a break. It is scientifically proven that travelling positively impacts your brain when wary of toiling daily. Taking time from daily chores to explore new places helps you release the tension you have held onto. It lowers your cortisol levels (the primary stress hormone), making you feel tranquil and content.
Mundane chores or stress negatively impacts your memory and goal-setting abilities. Having a change of environment, giving your mind some rest, and staying in a more cheerful mood helps you improve productivity and make the information stored in the brain permanent through better concentration. New experiences rewire your brain and boost your confidence. Even planning a trip and looking forward to something excites you and fills you with enthusiasm.
Hence, pay heed to your mind when it asks for a break. It is healthy to escape the daily grind even when you have an important meeting the next day or appear for your board examinations the next month. However, make sure that you are prepared and committed to coping with the real world and your responsibilities once your ephemeral moment of happiness comes to an end. A good break helps you fulfil your responsibilities efficiently. No matter what people say, you should manage your responsibilities and have fun simultaneously. Eventually, it is your efforts that matter.
Fun fact: My sister, yes, yes, the one who went to Goa a month before her boards, scored 93 percent. So Anisha, maybe, it's time for you to try taking a break now.