The Importance of Rest

If you’re attending Pickens Technical College and you wrapped up your semester of intense, hands-on training, congratulations. You’ve earned some rest. The classes and programs at PTC are not easy. They’re not supposed to be. Learning a new skill is difficult, whether it’s how to weld or how to time the hit-stick just right in Madden.

Since you’ve worked so hard to develop this new skill, you deserve to rest, as well. Playing hard—getting out and having fun—is important, too, emotionally, psychologically, and physically, but so is rest. Why? Because rest helps your body and mind recover so you can come back stronger.

Physical Benefits of Rest

I don’t need to cite scientific research showing how beneficial rest is on your body. You know it instinctually. Not only is rest crucial for not working yourself to death physically, it helps you become more coordinated and strong, especially if what you’re learning and working on at PTC is physical in nature.

It’s a pretty simple concept. When you work out at the gym, you don’t always see dramatic improvements in your strength or muscle mass. It’s only the next day that you feel sore and yet see a difference in your body. Rest helps your body rebuild the lost and spent cells from your physical workout and lets these new cells become even stronger than the ones they replace.

Psychological

You’ve probably heard before that your brain is a muscle and needs to be exercised to work at its best. Just like a muscle, the brain needs a rest period to regrow stronger and better than before. But more than that, your mind needs rest to be fully functional and ready to learn. Even if you’re doing the smart thing and continuing your reading and training over the summer, your brain needs rest because your mind needs rest.

When I say your mind needs rest, I mean more than sleep. Even when you’re focused on some task you learned only weeks before, your mind is pestering you with questions and random thoughts while your brain is attempting to sort through all the sensory input that makes up its overall perception of the world. And just getting your mind to focus on one task or thought at a time takes concentration and effort. You need rest to enable your mind to focus on the task at hand when you need it to.

Emotional

When people use the term ‘burn-out’ you might think of it as a physical or mental problem. A person is so tired that they physically can’t drag themselves back to work for another 14-hour day, or their brain is so fried from being burnt out that they can’t perform their job. I see burn-out as an emotional problem. When I feel burnt-out, I either feel emotionally empty, or that I can’t control my emotions. It’s not that I physically can’t do my work, or that my mind has been turned off, it’s that I just don’t feel like doing the work. Motivation is a struggle we all go through. When you’re tired, you’re less motivated. Your brain is trying to tell you something: that it’s time for a rest. Don’t ignore it.

Five Outdoor Colorado Activities for Summer on a Budget

The weather is turning and summer is finally here! In addition to staying up-to-date with new information developing in your industry of choice, you can help yourself by taking some time off and exploring all the outdoor activities Colorado has to offer.

There are two main problems to enjoying yourself to the max at most outdoor Colorado activities, especially in the Denver Metro Area: cost and crowds. While I can’t predict where the crowds will surge next along the Front Range looking for fun ways to enjoy this Colorado sunshine, I can identify a few places to enjoy for free or for very little money.

Here are five great outdoor activities to keep you sun-tanned and smiling all summer:

City Park (Denver)

City Park is the largest park in Denver, and while it might be a little out of the way if you live in Aurora or Centennial, it’s open from dawn until dusk every day, and its sunshine, lakes (I wouldn’t swim in them because of the geese), and wide open green fields are free for anyone to enjoy. City Park is so large that it hosts a number of events throughout the summer, many of which are free to attend. One example of a splendid City Park event is Jazz in the Park, a weekly outdoor concert featuring top-notch jazz bands and orchestras every Sunday evening from Memorial Day until Labor Day.

Confluence Park (Denver)

In the heart of downtown Denver is where the city began: the confluence of the South Platte River and Cherry Creek. It’s the best place to get in the water anywhere in the city, in my opinion. Even with the crowds that tend to fill up the sunny sitting areas on the riverbanks, it’s a relaxing scene. The water moves fast, yet makes for a great place to take a quick dip. Look out for periodic events taking place at the park as well.

Boulder Creek (Boulder)

Every summer, the residents of Boulder and the surrounding area congregate on the banks of Boulder Creek. This 32-mile river provides opportunities for wading, swimming, inner tubing, sunbathing, and even fly fishing. Crowds will be present, but on a sunny day, all you need is a towel and a generally positive attitude to fit right in.

Aurora Reservoir (Aurora)

A little more close to home for Pickens Technical College is the 800-acre Aurora Reservoir. You’ll find a bit more space here to spread out and relax under the sun while going for a swim in the reservoir. Non-motorized boats are allowed, as is fishing. There is a $10 entry fee per vehicle, but if you buddy or squad up, this fee can be very affordable.

Mount Falcon (Morrison)

In the foothills behind Morrison is Mount Falcon Park, which features a 1.7-mile hikers-only trail, and another 11 miles of multi-use trails that run up and down the mountain and lead to historic ruins such as the John Brisben Walker castle, the would-be site of a summer White House that was never completed. A hike up the mountain offers spectacular views of the area. For a fee, you can even set up camp here.

Of course, there are plenty of other outdoor activities for free or on the cheap in the great state of Colorado, especially if you make it out of the Denver Metro Area. Get out and explore this summer.

Set These Summer Goals for Success

If you want to use your summer vacation to your advantage, it’s time to start setting goals now. Many people, especially students, get carried away with summer relaxation and end up wasting valuable time. It’s important to relax during the summer, of course. Your brain needs the fresh air, sunshine, and rest that summertime in Colorado can bring. But, with that in mind, it’s not a bad idea to set a few goals for yourself to accomplish in the next three months.

Everyone’s goals and strategies for reaching them are different, and they should be. Your goals will change as you accomplish them. Once you graduate from Pickens Technical College, your goals will likely be very different from someone who will return to PTC in the fall for more classes.

Since everyone’s priorities are different, instead of supplying your goals for you, (which I can’t do) I’ll organize them in three broad categories you should pay attention to when you’re planning out your summer:

Career Goals

Planning for your future career, whether it’s starting right now or further in the future, should always be a point of interest at PTC. Your instructors give you the hands-on skills to learn the trade, and the opportunities to ask questions and learn from real professionals. Over the summer, though, while many offer opportunities to train and get more experience in one way or another, the instructors aren’t there anymore to demand your homework. You have to take it upon yourself to supplement your instruction with solo training. Assess your weaknesses and find ways to strengthen them over the summer with your own lesson plan.

Next Year Goals

For students planning on continuing their education at one of PTC’s excellent programs, these goals should be called ‘next school year goals’. Those moving on should start planning their next move right away.

For the returning students, look ahead at which classes you’ll be taking with which instructors and introduce yourself as best you can both to the class material and to the person responsible for supplying it to you. Connecting with teachers early is a good way to get help later in the year when you run into problems.

For the graduates and those moving on, you have more uncertainty. The first objective should be considering your options carefully and deciding on what you want to do next. Pursue a higher degree? Get more training? Get a job or an internship in the industry? Find what works for you and start to lay out a plan that will get you there. Meet people working in the industry, draw up your resume, etc.

Personal Goals

I made this a separate section because, even though graduating and getting a job in a good field can of course be personal goals, but you should also focus on your personal development, beyond the professional realm. You’ve learned the skills and gained the experience that will make you a star in whatever industry you’ve chosen, but in order to move ahead and lead a fulfilled life, you have to work on yourself, too.

What’s a personal weakness you have? Try to identify weak points and discomfort zones and challenge them. Focus on doing a little more each day—cleaning the house, communicating more with loved ones, reading—to improve yourself and your personal relationships. It’s time well-spent.