The end of fall break brings immense stress and little sleep as midterms and projects run full steam ahead. Although the work will not disappear, there are simple things we can do to give ourselves a much-needed break.
1. Change what you listen to while you’re studying
Think about it — while working without audio, all we hear is the buzz of the AC or the symphony of coughs and sneezes in the library. Going hours with minimal noise is only bound to make us more stir-crazy. If you do not listen to anything while you study, pop those headphones in, get your Spotify playlist up and listen to whatever music makes you happy. If you already listen to music while studying, try a podcast.
2. Walk outside
After being cooped up indoors for hours, we desperately need some Vitamin D. Nature is everywhere in Charlottesville, but it is easy to miss when we get caught up in studying. Go outside to soak up the fall weather and appreciate the history ingrained into Grounds. Taking a walk through Madison Bowl or a stroll up the Lawn is not only relaxing, but it might just put into perspective the overall minimal importance of your exam.
3. Spend time with friends
Studying is often a solo experience. We hunker down in the stacks for hours to mull over material and are not engaging with anyone else. If you start to stall out as you study, stop and remember that we have limits and cannot always be on our game. So try surrounding yourself with the people who make you happy, and forget about your work for a few hours, go to the Corner with some friends and feel the stress drift away.
4. Read in the Pavilion gardens — secret little on-Grounds getaways
Behind the Pavilions on the Lawn lie beautiful, uncrowded gardens that are quiet places to sit and pull out a good book. Venture back behind the Lawn rooms and explore these vibrant getaways. Taking some time to appreciate this environment will help ease your mind and calm your nerves.
5. Meditate and do yoga — embrace the downward dog
Mindfulness is truly bliss — escape that cramped desk, lay out a yoga mat and focus on the present. The University’s IM-Rec Group Fitness program and the School of Medicine’s Mindfulness Center both offer yoga classes, with the latter offering meditation resources as well. Focusing on the connection between the mind and body will leave you feeling refreshed.
6. Dance it out — no, I mean it
As silly as it may sound, nothing beats a good old-fashioned dance party. Whether studying alone or with friends, take some time to step away from the work and get moving. Put on whatever music makes you hop and let loose. This takes your mind away from your studying and helps you get some jitters out. My go-to song is “Happy” by Pharrell Williams.
7. Explore beyond Grounds
It is easy to forget, but there is a world beyond Grounds. We are only about a 10-minute drive from Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall, a lively strip of shops and restaurants that is sure to take your mind off of the workload. On a summer visit, I once enjoyed someone’s singing below the Paramount Theater sign. The Charlottesville Area Transit trolleys can take you to the Downtown Mall — and more importantly, from stress to relaxation.
8. Reach out to family and loved ones
Although college is a time for us to mature and become more independent, that does not mean that we never need support or encouragement from loved ones. If you are feeling overwhelmed, make a call back home. The people on the other end of the line will be able to help you because they know you best. They want to see you happy, so a call back home or to an old friend is bound to leave you feeling comforted knowing that loved ones are thinking about you.
9. Grab your favorite meal
Food is one of the greatest sources of comfort. Whether you find a dessert you have always enjoyed or explore new cuisine, take the time to treat yourself to food that brings you joy. Settle into a booth at The Virginian and order the mac n’ cheese topped with a potato cake, which I personally absolutely adore. Stop by Charlottesville’s Dairy Market and explore all of its dining options. Not only will your brain be replenished, but food will also nourish your attitude.
10. Attend or watch a sporting event
Keep your mind occupied by something else for a couple of hours and go to a game. Field hockey, volleyball — you name it. Or, become enthralled by the MLB playoffs or college football. Focus on the objective of the sport and take a moment to put work aside. Stress is visiting on home turf — make the play and overcome.