1. Spend some time outside
With the weather starting to warm up a bit, there aren’t really any excuses not to get outside and enjoy the sunshine. Whether you take your homework or favorite book outside and sit on a bench or you go for a long walk around Grounds, being outside is a nice way to relax and appreciate the beauty of nature. Also, the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us all that we seriously underappreciated the outdoors — so use your next day off to bask in the sunshine and feel that cool spring breeze.
2. Self-care galore
Honestly, I do not do enough self-care during a normal school day — or school week or school month. So why not use a day off to dedicate to myself, both mind and body. If you can, invest in some luxurious skincare, hair care products, candles, good books and nice blankets, and spend the day doing whatever it is you and your body need. Take some time to care for your mental health by journaling or meditating. I know that self-care may feel like a large feat or a chore for some people — however, after it’s actually done, most people feel refreshed and grateful that they did it for themselves. So, use your break day for you — after all, you definitely deserve it.
3. Take a drive
With COVID-19 restrictions still in place, road trips are a smart option to explore and “get out” without actually “getting out.” Since you can just hop into your car and drive around, there is no real risk of exposure! Also, this is a nice excuse to listen to some rocking music and just relax and drive. Taking a drive provides an opportunity to spend some time alone if that’s what you need, or you can invite your roommates along to spend some quality time together. You can pick a destination, or just drive until you feel like you’ve gone far enough and then come back home. Whatever you decide to do, I promise it’ll be a good time — just make sure to pack snacks, drinks and fill up your gas tank before you hit the road.
4. Experiment with therapeutic stress releases
If your semester has been anything like mine, it has been a tad stressful — dealing with assignments, extracurriculars, post-graduation plans and the continuing pandemic. With all these anxieties combined, it is crucial to find time and methods to release the stress and channel your energy into healthy activities. Some therapeutic techniques that may be useful to experiment with during a break day include art therapy, aromatherapy, exercise therapy or music therapy. Although some of these releases require resources and planning, it’ll all be worth it to get some stress out of you through trying something new. And who knows — you might find an activity or technique that works well for you and integrates well into your regular everyday schedule.
5. Catch up on homework and assignments
I know — this is definitely not how anyone wants to spend their break day. But as the semester progresses and classes become more intense, it’s likely that most of us here at the University will be doing some amount of homework during our day off. I want all of you to know that there is no shame in using this time “off” to work on your assignments — whether you are catching up or getting ahead. However, I would encourage you all to try and give yourself a bit of a break, if possible. This has been a tough year, and we could all use a break, even if it is only for one day or a few hours.
6. Do a DIY project
Is your bedroom lacking some pizazz? Does your apartment need organization help? Do you need to make a gift for a friend’s upcoming birthday? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then DIY projects are the thing for you. Similar to the art therapy mentioned earlier, DIY projects kill two birds with one stone — you get your creative juices flowing and you get rid of some stress and tension from intense schoolwork and extracurriculars. Pinterest is my best friend for finding fun, affordable DIY projects — some things on my list to try include crafting a device to organize my spices, making a photo-collage wall and designing Scrabble tile coasters.
7. Cook something delicious for yourself
Sometimes the process of finding a recipe, cooking the dish and cleaning up the unconquerable kitchen mess is too much to handle during the week with school, work and extracurriculars. So, one thing I am looking forward to is using the days off to cook or bake for myself and my roommates. The Food section of The Cavalier Daily offers some tastebud-tingling recipe suggestions — ranging from this supreme curry to the best banana bread you’ll ever try. Also, if you don’t feel like cooking something super special just for one day, consider using the time off to meal prep for the remainder of the week — that way you can focus on school work once the spring break day is over and done with.
8. Binge watch some TV shows and movies
Although this option isn’t necessarily productive or adventurous, watching TV or movies can be extremely relaxing and helpful in decompressing from stress. If you are looking to spend your break day relaxing on the couch or in your bed, I would recommend looking into some new releases, such as the comedy thriller "I Care a Lot" on Netflix or the drama "I May Destroy You" on HBO Max. Also, TV and movies don’t have to be a passive, unproductive activity — plenty of streaming services offer thought-provoking programs, films and documentaries that can be educational and entertaining.
9. Hold a tournament with your roommates
If you are looking for something to do that requires a little more planning and extensive work, holding some kind of coronavirus-safe tournament may be something to consider. With tournaments, the possibilities are endless — Super Smash Bros., Mario Kart, cornhole or even a bake-off tournament. These options, among plenty of others, are a great way to bring out your competitive side and have a blast while crushing your roomies — in a completely friendly way, of course. Also, keep in mind that you could stretch out your tournaments over the course of several weeks and continue the competition on different break days or even weekends to prolong the fun — at the end of the semester, you can crown the tournament champion and have a coronavirus-safe celebration.
10. Explore Charlottesville and surrounding areas
As a fourth-year student at the University, I am ashamed at how little I have explored the city of Charlottesville and the surrounding areas during my time here. So, I think I am going to be taking my own advice and using my break days to experience the city beyond Grounds. This may mean simply walking to the downtown area to support some local shops like purchasing some custom stationery at Rock Paper Scissors or driving to a new restaurant in Crozet like Vision BBQ. Also, this is a fantastic opportunity to learn more about the history of Charlottesville and some of its neighborhoods that have been neglected, such as 10th and Page, Vinegar Hill and Cherry Avenue — which may lead to positively impacting these areas through raising awareness or volunteering.