How to survive Winter Break

Photo credit: Jacob Wentz
Photo credit: Jacob Wentz

I don’t mean to assume but I’m willing to wager that some of you share the same apprehension I have of going home for break. The way it goes for me, I feel like a fish out of water for about a week, bored and aimless for another week and then I’m in the middle of Spring semester.

This article is an attempt at a guide to smoothing the transition to and from winter break. It is by no means comprehensive (most of it reflects my personal experience) but it’s written with the New College community in mind.

If I’ve learned anything in my piling number of breaks, it’s that keeping busy helps. Having some sort of loose schedule or even a solid goal can be the light that gets you through the winter.

I have not attached my personal Winter break “schedule” as example. That’d be weird. Instead I offer two processes that can be incorporated into break as a goal or sprinkled into a schedule. These are check in and check out.

Check in

“Caring for myself is not self-indulgence. Its self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare.” – Audre Lorde

Especially in this time of violence and uncertainty, turning inward can be a saving grace. This can mean self-care but it can also mean independently doing whatever it is you should be doing for yourself.

Some admirable folks have a self-care routine. If you don’t, do what feels good whenever you can. Rose-petal baths are not the only answer here. So many things can be healthy acts of self-care.

Do your thing. You have one or two or a dozen – do ‘em. Is this Netflixing? Cool! Is it journaling? Great! Set aside time to do it, do it and then stop. This is practicing self-control but it is also learning an appreciation for the thing you like to do, whatever it is.

Scheduled breaks are actually an oddity in the “real world.” Don’t expect for these few weeks to be the only time any daunting task can get done. Even if it must get done, try to do it alongside of several other things in order to keep a diversity in your daily life. Otherwise, things get dull.

Discover new albums (I recommend Devendra Banhart’s new album or Solange’s). Binge-listen or take it one song a day.

  1. MOVE: walk, run, stretch, jump, dance.
  2. Eat healthy. One day of the week, one meal of the day, one week of the break.
  3. Look for community gardens! They’re most everywhere. You don’t necessarily have to rent a plot but hang out there, smell a stranger’s tomato plant (you won’t regret it).
  4. Alternatives to the above: guerilla garden! Take a wild natives scavenge.

Keep the academic train of thought chugging – even if it’s at two miles an hour. You are three-fourths likely to be doing an Independent Study Project. Take time to actively think about it, what you want from it and what those weeks will look like. It’ll ease your brain into January term so it doesn’t sneak up behind you.

Read something, read anything. This will soften the drop from finals cramming to sofa laying. Or, if you’re into letting the laziness hit, read a book or short stories a week before break ends.

Check out:

[O]ne of the most vital ways we sustain ourselves is by building communities of resistance, places where we know we are not alone.” – bell hooks.

New College is a small college. Being part of a tiny and tight-knit community like this one can give anybody a bad case of cabin fever. It can also be validating and amplifying. Our pond-sized community allows for every ripple to reach every end of the circle.

Break is disorientating because it pops the New College bubble and takes us away from the people and places we see every day. I don’t know about you but there’s no forum where I’m from, that’s for sure.

Keeping in touch with your New College life can cushion the coming and going process of break. Don’t forget about your phone! It’s a magical messaging device. Text or call your friends over break. They might need the hello as much as you do. Also, if you’re a teacher’s pet like me, email your professors! They don’t hibernate over break, I promise.

There’s some kind of art and music scene in the tiniest of corners. Reading local publications or surfing their websites can help you find the next free show in your hometown. Pure Honey Magazine tracks all upcoming shows in South Florida.

Volunteer! If you can.

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