Ah, fall in Claremont: the leaves are changing color, although the palm trees are ever green; the air is as crisp as the apples at snack; and the streets are flooding due to some very mild rainfall. This is a special and cherished time of year! For a lot of people, it means bundling up for cozy weather, but for many others, it means looming darkness and nostalgia.
Hello, darkness, my old friend. Despite the Uggs and tasty pumpkin-spiced permutations of every edible thing ever, the snuggly weather often brings with it an overbearing sense of dread and sadness. This might feel like a deep longing under your ribs for someone to Netflix and chill with, or you might be stuck ruminating life as a gifted/troubled/breathing human in this strange and unfair world.
Sometimes you can’t get out of bed, or your hands sweat and tears pour down your face uncontrollably. There is an immense pressure weighing over everyone at the 5Cs to push, push, push through it in order to succeed, and baby, when it’s cold outside, there isn’t any sun to distract us. We exist in a hyper-competitive bubble that oftentimes forces us to prioritize activities A, B and C ahead of our own mental and physical well-being.
Here are a few humdrum tips to help you out during this El Niño season, because hiding underneath all of your syllabi are a mind and heart that need to be cared for. So whether you’re cozying up in the SCC reading Foucault, studying for an o-chem midterm, or writing the first pages of your two-semester-long thesis, remember to take care of yourself, because you know what? You deserve it.
1. Write it down.
HOW: Carry around a notebook or type it into your online blog—whatever fits your fancy! The ambiguous “it” is left ambiguous because you should write down everything that is on your mind. Write about your day, make a list of things to get done or boys you want to kiss—whatever it is, materialize your thoughts so they aren’t spiraling around in your mind and driving you mad.
2. Make a playlist.
HOW: Spotify, baby. Listening to a playlist filled with some of your feel-good and chill-out tunes will be a good way to ground yourself when your mind is wandering elsewhere.
3. Breathe and meditate.
HOW: Focus on your breath when you are feeling panicky or make meditation a part of your morning routine. This is the best way to clear your head and to be fully present in the body that you were born in.
4. Be cognizant of what helps versus what heightens your sadness and anxiety.
HOW: Do you always feel anxious when you eat at the Scripps dining hall? Then don’t. Does eating yogurt and listening to Rachmaninoff help your sadness? Then do.
HOW: 15 minutes or 45, you should cut out a space in every day to run, jump rope, swim, cha-cha or otherwise build up enough endorphins for a runner’s high. This will also help structure your day a little better, so you don’t go isolate yourself in your room after class.
6. Eat well.
HOW: I’m going to sound like your mom here: Less sugar! More protein! A full plate of veggies and fruits! And honestly, make it to breakfast every now and then. Oh, and treat yourself to something yummy sometimes—I really recommend the pumpkin roll at Somecrust.
7. Lay off the substances.
HOW: Quite the contrary to popular belief, alcohol is indeed a depressant. Also, don’t take anything to 'escape,' whatever that may mean to you. The long-term effects are not worth the short-term high. Sometimes, even more caffeine isn’t the way to go.
8. Get enough sleep.
HOW: EIGHT HOURS! Literally, we can all do it if we try.
9. Go to class.
HOW: Motivate yourself. Remember that you are here to find knowledge, wisdom and inspiration, and the classroom is often the place to find those things.
10. Call your parents, talk to your friends. Know that you are not alone.
HOW: Acknowledge the stirring feeling in your tummy or the cloud of sadness at the front of your head—these things are nothing to be embarrassed about, and you are surrounded by a lot of people who care about you.
Elena Basada PO '16 is an English major.