What To Do With Your Rare College Downtime
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Health and Wellness

What To Do With Your Rare College Downtime

Productivity and mental health all in one package.

What To Do With Your Rare College Downtime

There is always something to do on a college campus. I’d heard that before coming to school, but I never realized just how true it was until arriving at Oberlin. You have classes and classwork, your very own room to keep clean (sometimes), new friends to hang out with, old friends to call home to, lectures, shows and movies to go to. It’s amazing to have so many opportunities at my fingertips. It’s also left me with a serious case of FOMO.

According to dictionary.com, FOMO is “anxiety that an exciting or interesting event may currently be happening elsewhere, often aroused by posts seen on a social media website.” FOMO is also an acronym, which lends us the shorthand definition: “fear of missing out.”

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It’s really hard to find balance in college, not only because there’s so much to do, but also because of the strain you feel to be doing it all. People have a tendency to say that college will be the best years of your life, but that’s kind of scary. It makes me feel like the only way to take advantage of this time is to spread myself thin until I burn out, take some time to recover and then start all over again.

That is not, in fact, the best of plans.

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So I’ve been trying to find a way to slow things down every once in awhile. Sometimes it’s good to sit down and focus on something other than the constant press of schoolwork. It’s hard to make myself realize that it’s okay to take a break, but I swear it is. Taking time for myself won’t stop me from working my hardest, or from bonding with my friends here. In fact, the better I treat myself, the more I’m able be to treat others well too! As I realize these things, I’m still learning to find actual downtime without feeling guilty about it. It helps if I give myself some options.


Always a good one. I’ve been told that by the time I graduate college, I will be able to nap anywhere, anytime. This is a skill I aspire to. I am in awe of my friends who can nap, have always been able to nap. But being in college is turning me into a more skilled napper already. Even just closing my eyes for a moment feels good. You can drift off without entirely falling asleep, and still get up feeling more refreshed than before. It’s hard to find down time in college, and it’s sometimes even harder to find sleep time.

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So there’s nothing wrong with catching rest where you can.

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Meditation is something that some of the most successful people in our world do to keep themselves centered in order to do the work that keeps them at the top. In that case, I might as well meditate too. I want to be successful, happy and healthy. Meditation can help with that.

At Oberlin, we have a couple meditation groups. Sometimes I go learn and work with them, sometimes I just take a couple moments to breathe. If I go down to the laundry room and my clothes are still spinning, I stand there and breathe until they’re done. When I have to wait for my Brita filter to fill up, I do the same. It’s easy to find yourself too busy to meditate, but I’m starting to find that it’s easy to meditate even as you’re getting things done.

Go for a walk!

This one can also be categorized as exploring. Getting out of your space, especially the space where you work, is very necessary. And if you’re in a new place, there’s so much yet to be found. Oberlin is a pretty tiny campus, but I still only know a small fraction of it. I like to wander through Tappan and sit on the swings. I go for walks in the Arb, and listen to the grasshoppers scuttling around. I find the historic spots in Oberlin and read about them. Or I just walk until it’s too cold, or I’m too hot, and then I go back to my dorm feeling much more centered.

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A dance teacher that I had in high school liked to tell us that it was important to give our minds and bodies time to play, even as we grew into adults. It took me awhile to realize how true this was. Whenever I managed to do something that looked fun without worrying about whether or not I knew what I was doing, I was playing. When I went to Quidditch practice and it devolved into a giant game of tag, I was ecstatic, because I was just playing. Whether it be a good old-fashioned game of tag, an impromptu snowball fight, a board game, or an instrument, it’s always good to set aside some time to play.

Arts and Crafts!

This is a big one. I’m telling you, arts and crafts are good for the soul. I collect colorful leaves and press them in my intimidatingly large Latin textbook so that I can look back on my first fall in a place where the seasons really change. Now that it’s getting colder (it snowed today!) I joined a friend’s knitting circle, and now spend many evenings holed up in front of Netflix, knitting my way to old age. Everyone should expect scarves for Christmas. Today some friends went into town to buy watercolor supplies, and we all sat in the hall lounge painting. Coloring books are popular. Mine is Game of Thrones themed. Go sculpt something, draw on your own hand. Cut out a couple snowflakes to decorate your dorm. I promise you, arts and crafts make everything better.

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I save way too many things. People are always like “Adrienne you don’t actually need,

that, when will you ever look at that again” but the thing is, one day I will. I’ll find a memory and it’ll take me back and I love that feeling so so much. So I write things down. Lots of things. Way too many things. Not only is journaling a good place to reflect, but it helps me sort through and solidify my thoughts, and it’s something to look forward to re-reading one day, even if the thoughts I had as a middle-schooler are cringey, even if the thoughts I have today will be cringeworthy next week. I like having them.

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