1. Get off Grounds I cannot emphasize this enough. A change in perspective is absolutely essential when your midterms are slowly but surely crushing your spirit and immune system. Escaping from the source of your anxiety is about as medicinal as prescription drugs. Though the University is much beloved, there are so many things around Charlottesville that are worthy of your time. The Downtown Mall, Barracks Road and other central locations are a wealth of much-needed distractions. Leave your papers and textbooks behind, haul yourself on any form of public transportation and get some away time. 2. Literally go home Nothing is so relaxing as returning home — a conqueror of all things educational. When you’re at the University, it can sometimes feel as though everyone is doing as much or more work than you are. Going home after being in this high-pressure environment is similar to a spa retreat. Your pets would much appreciate the visit as well! Is there anything more therapeutic than a cute dog or a cuddly kitty? I think not. 3. Catch up on the news The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, is pregnant again, you guys. I had to find out this tremendous news in class because apparently, my teachers are now more knowledgeable of pop culture than I am. Take a break from studying to reflect on what really matters, like the fact that Kylie Jenner might be pregnant? 4. Become sleeping beauty Honestly, you guys, I shouldn’t have to spell this out for you. If I hear one more person say that sleep is a waste of time, I will drop out of school. How can the most well-educated people I know deny the importance of sleep? Your memory will function much better if you’re well-rested, so all you study bugs put the books down and get your beauty rest. 5. Eat real food Use your newfound free time to conquer the food pyramid! Get yourself some veggies, fruit and my all-time favorite — protein. Take a break from the dining hall and treat yourself to all of the food around us that has actual nutritional value. Try going to Roots, the Virginian, Corner Juice or Panera. An actual meal might change your whole life at this point and fuel the rest of your semester. If your family is visiting, it might even be a treat on them. If so, I recommend ordering food to store back in your dorm for when classes start again and your desperation peaks. And while we’re talking about food, let’s start reveling in the flavors of fall. Pumpkin muffins, caramel lattes and any number of savory pastries from the cornucopia that is autumn should definitely be enjoyed over fall break. 6. Get ahead or catch up on assignments I know, ugh, right? But when you have so much time you might actually be able to enjoy what you’re studying instead of stressing over impending deadlines. An afternoon Starbucks or Alderman trip, accompanied by a caffeinated beverage of some sort of course, is much preferred to an anxiety-ridden study session at 2 a.m. when you have classes the next day. Blast whatever motivational music gets you in the right head space — no judgment here, I promise — and jam out some of those assignment that have been weighing on you. Your future self will be very appreciative. Think of all of the extra time you’ll have to eat and sleep! 7. Actually read Okay, I don’t know about, you guys, but reading is actually such an enjoyable pastime for me and it’s such a bummer that I have zero time to read for fun! Think about how relaxing the Harry Potter room would be if you were there for your own enjoyment. Or you could enjoy the fall weather on the Lawn or on one of the many secluded benches with a book in hand. Maybe even take a nap. Live your best life. Speaking of living your best life, if you haven’t yet been to the Special Collections library — or as I like to mysteriously refer to it, “The Archives” — you should definitely go over break. All you have to do is type your favorite author or book into the database, and you’ll soon have an aged manuscript in your hands. It’s like getting fast-food but for books! Just browsing the database and finding cool novels would definitely be more fascinating than going to Barnes and Noble — don’t get me wrong, I love Barnes and Noble more than life itself. There’s one on Barracks Road you should definitely pay a visit to. If you find yourself craving old books you can actually take home with you after your fun “Archives” adventure, there’s a used bookstore on the corner right by Starbucks — talk about prime real estate! If reading isn’t your cup of tea, Netflix is an excellent go-to. I definitely recommend you use this time in your life to catch up on Riverdale since season two is coming out in October. Any guilty-pleasure show, however, will definitely suffice to distract your anxiety riddled mind from the reality of your situation. 8. Spend time with all those friends you normally ghost You’re a busy bee. Your friends understand, but take this time to remind them that you actually do exist. Meet up for food, have a movie night or kill two birds with one stone and have a group study session. I know that sounded terribly nerdy but nothing seals the bonds of friendship like shared desperation. Your friend will probably remember some hilarious story mid-way through a reading which you’ll definitely need to hear. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of hearing all the crazy things that happen to your friends because how else would you know that there’s a man in a giraffe costume riding around Grounds on a unicycle? Or you could do something crazy yourselves and go on a road trip — if you all happen to have the luxury of a car that is. Really Kerouac it up! Roam around, become a troubadour, live your dreams. You’ll come back to grounds so refreshed and with a very cool, indie vibe. 9. Exercise? I say that with a question mark because I am not an advocate for regular exercise. I literally cannot run a mile, but, far be it from me to limit your love of treadmills and weights and other gym paraphernalia. I actually did workout last weekend, and it felt pretty good to be worried about my imminent death caused by hyperventilation and heat stroke as opposed to my grades. Also, there is an Olympic-sized swimming pool in the AFC so if you’re feeling like you ate one too many cinnamon bagels, you can swim those devious carbs right off! Honestly though, if you’re feeling like, “Wow, no, I refuse to exercise,” I am in full support of you. Eat another bagel! Screw the system! 10. Revel in your successes We’ve made it through half of the semester and we are killing the game! We are surviving and thriving you guys. Take a moment to realize that you are already smarter than you were mere weeks ago. Look at all that growing you’ve done — gold star! Just make sure you realize how much you’ve accomplished. I know it’s hard, but you’re here to crush those goals you have and you are doing a great job. Don’t disregard the work you’ve done because it is no small feat. Not everyone could do what you do, and you do it so well.