Break the cycle of break anxiety

With less than a week until the long-awaited — yet perhaps dreaded — Nov. 24, you’re probably experiencing two conflicting sentiments: relief and apprehension. Approaching the last day of in-person classes, we can look forward to less chilly walks to class, navigation through crowded areas and masked studying. However, this also means living a life of heightened seclusion for a potentially questionable amount of time. 

Most students are stressed about finals, but for many, another source of worry exists over what is to follow. Reminders of COVID-19’s potency continue to emerge and current circumstances bear an eerie similarity to earlier this year. We are inevitably prompted to think back on a time of shelter-in-place and stay-at-home orders, pondering what might happen if those measures are to resurface. 

If we learned anything from the last holiday “break” this past spring, it’s that we need to take responsibility for both our individual and collective well-being. While it could be difficult, try to envision what lies ahead this holiday season and beyond. What self-care activities will you employ to recharge and reward yourself for a semester well-fought? How might you manage potential for conflict with those you’re cooped up with? What can you do to combat feelings of desolation while away from school? 

Another thing we’ve come to understand is that we must cherish the face-to-face — or mask-to-mask — interactions we have with close family and friends. This time around, however, it is more important than ever to connect with those afar. Winter is already a typically challenging season to maintain mental health, but recent events have intensified those adversities. 

Make an effort to acknowledge the various situations of fellow classmates going forward. Some might be returning to a troubled home life, while others could be unable to see relatives. Pandemic or not, the holidays can be draining. And, no matter the circumstances, isolation has the capacity to bring us all down. 

This semester has been an especially tough one, but it can be even tougher to transition from constant deadlines to little structure. A stressful semester followed by more strain can make next year’s prospects feel even more daunting. 

Now is the time to break this cycle. 

Remember that doing nothing for a while is completely okay, and doing lots of things to pass time is also okay. Personal care looks different for everyone, so we should be mindful of that for ourselves and others. Furthermore, this break is well-earned — be sure to make the most of it in ways that optimize health and peace.  

Between studying and other end-of-the-semester tasks these next couple days, appreciate those you are surrounded by before parting ways: study with a classmate, get coffee with a friend or maybe have a potluck with roommates. Since this might be the last time you see those familiar faces for a while, try to make a plan for continuing those connections remotely. Keep in mind that loneliness tends to feed off of itself, so look to maintain necessary social ties while also keeping yourself and others accountable for wellness efforts.