Finals week is finally a wrap, and we are headed into the long winter vacation, before returning for classes in January. It is time my annual rant about the importance of self-care, especially during the harsh winter months. I want to share some things I plan to do personally to prepare for winter quarter, and why I find it important.
I want to keep things honest. Last year was really hard for me. I made it through, I got good grades, I learned a lot, but there were many times during my junior year when I felt overwhelmed, and helpless. It can be hard for me to admit that I had a hard time getting through it and that I don’t always have everything figured out. I can be the type of person that doesn’t admit they need help, because of my independence and need to figure things out for myself. It can be embarrassing, but I have learned over the past year, to admit this about myself. I share this personal information because I know I am not alone in this.
Many college students over the course of their 4 or so years encounter hard times. Yes, sometimes college can be Frisbee on the quad, great friends, loving your classes, living care free, but in control of your destiny. I have had countless great memories and moments like those we hope for in a college experience. But sometimes college is overwhelming, hard, and lonely. Especially in the harsh Chicago winters. Everything seems a little bit harder in winter. When it is so cold outside, it can be hard to want to go walk to train to get to class, go outside to run errands and more. When it is darker, colder, harsher it can really effect on us in various ways. Winter quarter of my junior year, I was overwhelmed by the role I was playing on stage, my coursework, and personal life. It took a toll on my physical and mental well being, as well as my personal relationships. I didn’t know exactly how to express how I was feeling, or how to ask for help. I made poor health decisions by eating my feelings and skipping exercise. It took me a few months, and some distance from those situations to finally feel like my awesome self again, but I know that it was rough for a while. Thinking back on this, I know that I do not want to let myself fall into an unfortunate place like that again this year. I have too many things to do, and want to get through my last year of school loving life. So I have decided to draft a game-plan of sorts, to make sure I make it through winter not only surviving, but thriving.
When speaking to a dear friend, I mentioned that I was creating a game plan for myself, and asked for any input or suggestions on how to craft this. While everyone should think of their plan as highly personal and specific to oneself, he gave me a couple things to think on. He suggested I focus on 3 main goals: something physical, mental and personal. I take Barre
classes, so focusing on fitness goals there is something substantial to focus on, where I can see tangible progress. Also, learning something new, with some books of choice, practicing my Spanish or teaching myself to cook new recipes. That way I can feel that I am working toward something real, and enjoyable. And personal things are leaving room in your life for things that personally bring you joy and a sense of accomplishment. For me this might be trying new food, new music, creative tasks and writing that bring me a sense of peace, but also push me forward.
Of course, when coming up with these tasks, they are to supplement and fill out my life, so I can still balance schoolwork, plays, and more. These are things that can give me a well rounded sense of self. I would recommend to anyone thinking about the upcoming quarter and winter season, to take a few moment to think about what they can do as preventative care and planning to make it that much easier and more enjoyable. Winter is hard but I am determined to make it through, and you can too!