Today I decided to take the scenic route home.

There wasn’t traffic on I-95 or anything so I could have gotten home in an hour. It would’ve been so easy to hop on the interstate and fade into the mind-numbing stop and go. But I needed something else today.

I guess I just wanted to take in the beauty of fall this morning. I just wanted to take a moment and stare at the beautiful swirl of colorful leaves dancing in circles around my car. I wanted to watch the deer on the side of the road duck its head just out of sight as I drove by. I wanted to let the sun filter through the canopy of trees, blinking at me through my wind shield. I guess I just wanted to take a moment to feel at peace when the last few weeks have been wrought with trying to finish those major projects and studying for those oh-so-important tests.

Taking a moment, I’ve always found, is very important. Just letting myself step back, assess, relax — for even a couple of moments — can do wonders for my stress-addled mind. Obviously, there’s a danger of taking too many moments but, still, inspiration sometimes comes to me when I just…wait for it to happen.

The other night I broke down. I felt overwhelmed by approaching due dates. I felt completely obliterated by feelings of doubt. I looked at internship opportunity after internship opportunity and just thought…There’s no way I could get this. There’s no way I’m qualified enough. Or interesting enough. Or talented enough. I just felt so stupid. Now, I don’t cry often but every once in awhile I’ll get too inside my head and feel a burning and destructive self-hatred possess me. And even as I understand how terrible and even untrue those thoughts are, I cannot help them either.

It’s moments like that where it’s so important for me to take a breath and do something that will help me to settle and reorganize my thoughts in a healthier way. I’m not a psychologist by any means but I know, at least, about the things that make me feel better. I enjoy reading. I enjoy writing. I enjoy drawing. I enjoy curling around a bowl of popcorn and watching some corny soap opera. I enjoy long, hot showers with shampoo that suds up so much I can pull my medium-length hair into a long spike at the crown of my head. I especially enjoy singing. Today I enjoyed letting nature soothe my soul in the way only something that has thrived for centuries can.

I know that life is busy and crazy and filled with just as much failure as success. Trust me when I say that I have been completely incapacitated from having too much on my plate more times than I care to count.

I just hope that today you will let yourself shake off that stress and give yourself a half hour to enjoy the things that make you happy to be alive. Life shouldn’t just be filled with stress, pain, and hurt. You don’t have to keep pushing yourself along without a break. You may find, like me, that taking that break will help you deal with everything you’re working on more efficiently.

Just for today, won’t you take the scenic route, too?