Approaching fast is the infamous March drain of motivation and enthusiasm across college campuses. There is a tangible difference in the tone of my friends’ statuses online that range from directed frustrations to pleas for the break to come sooner. The phrase “time of the year” trips from its would-be jolly Christmas-loving cousin “the most wonderful time…” to “that time of the year.” Like the moment when the horizon of the water is vaguely visible between your breathless stroke, the thought of May is clearly within grasp but still leagues of words out of reach. Despite the fact that I adore Spring, there are definitely accessories of armor I use to help me keep focused on my academics during my less than pleasant mood times.
Tune In, Tune Out But Definitely Fine-Tune
It is year 2017, an orange hued CEO with dusty blonde hair has made disharmony the given cadence of Washington, the CIA supposedly has the ability to infiltrate televisions, Facebook’s awkward faced creator is forcing indigenous Hawaiians from their ancestral lands and if you have yet to experience four seasons in a single day, global climate change is blanketing the world with special storms like rainbow sprinkles on a cupcake. Nothing makes sense anymore if you attempt to process the reality of our current time fabric. This is one of the many things that lead to my burnout at school. Every time I log onto my computer, nearly every website I go to is full of information that leaves me physically wary. Our time spent perusing through feeds becomes a bombardment of information that is simply overwhelming. That is why my newsfeed eradicator for websites like Facebook has been crucial to my wellbeing.
Now, that does not mean that I do not stay updated with current events or peak into the lives of my friend’s every once and a while to read about their losses or their incredible opportunities. Incognito mode allows me to cheat the app but it is refreshing to keep internet positive spaces as healthy as your every day interactions. So if you ever feel like you need a break, take this action. Being intentional about how much you are consuming will allow you to remain present in the moment you are living in without the abrupt emotional pangs that come with reading twenty articles of politics. This point leaves me to my second safeguard.
Give Your Happinesses the Time They Deserve
Last semester when I went into the Student Health Center at my campus, my physician was required to ask me mental health questions that allowed me to disclose how much I related to thoughts regarding failure, pressure, and my own image. I knew this was a routine check up but I think that visit allowed me to assess how ingrained some of those questions were in my head, so much so that I had already answered them and shut them out before I had the courage to mention them to anyone else. In a nonchalant but sincere tone, he asked me why I had been feeling sad for longer periods of time and although I knew the names of some of my triggers, I could not bring myself to say that I did not even know why.
I feigned that although I had definitely felt less animated than my high school years, to which he thankfully insisted something like, “You know you’re a junior. You’ve been here for a while now and you might feel this way.” I appreciated those words. The deal is that when you experience so much stress during a short period of time, it can be very difficult to reflect and describe the process your body is going through, in any shape. Sometimes you have deadlines too approximate to one another and you devote your time to a cause for five to ten hours a week, in addition to maybe another… two or three. Overachiever. We are a generation that has embraced, evolved, and branded multitasking. First-generation students dive headfirst into their college years with this kind of momentum. But it can easily lead to a short fuse situation: even though we are burdened to save the world, I think we need to resurrect the idea that we are first living in it.
What Is A Balanced Life?
One practice that became extremely beneficial last semester for me was the act of dressing up and going out at least once a week. No matter what my schedule looked like for my given recooperation day, I made the effort to sleep early, wake up refreshed and put on a cool outfit, meticulously adorning my self in a fierce cat eye and matte lip. From the moment I stepped out of my dorm room to the night, I dedicated that day solely to do things that I absolutely like or needed. I watched Netflix on my bed with my fairy lights lit on nights when I wanted to catch up on my favorite drama or check out a new movie. I bought myself candies and made sure I was popcorn ready for those nights in. This strategy at first only appears like a typical college student recipe. At least, that is what television shows and brochures would want you to believe. Effective out of all these factors, however, sometimes were the oddest aspects of my day. The way my room turned a soft yellow-orange just after sunset or completely unexpected conversations with a friend frequented my happy meter.
There was a point in my semester when cleaning my room became a midweek highlight. Buying a cool wall piece or ridding my desk of unwanted but inevitable clutter went a long way in easing my mind. There are probably hundreds of thousands of people who feel the same way about maintaining your living spaces as it is a no-brainer solution to procrastinate but still utilize time wisely. However, as an undergrad with narrow vision, you could underwhelm the impact of those small medicines.
To the credit of one of my history professors, I think I started to take my relaxation days more seriously. In my early college years, if I was not writing or engaging with a problem set, I felt guilty about not projecting one hundred percent of my energy toward my assignments. Now, although I hesitate that the same inclination does not persist, I understand that one hundred percent of energy deserves to go toward anything and everything that ensures that I can exist within conditions that are not only tolerable but enjoyable. Within and beyond my academic contributions, I want to have my emotional stability to be a part of the intellectual conversation.
My hope is that these overarching themes can encourage younger folks to perceive themselves as not only future scholars but perspective soul-bodies that sometimes need to trade a textbook for a science-fiction novel to spark our dimming imaginations. To keep your vision vibrant is the meta goal, always!