Photo by Marian Hill

Fall quarter can hit some of us the hardest, putting some in a type of survival mode that can be difficult to get out of come winter break. If you are like me and were hit with one too many bad strokes of luck this past term, it can be hard to finally feel at ease once school has ended.

I found myself still in a state of stress about things that really did not rightfully warrant it. Stressing led to bad eating behaviors and hygiene (like not cleaning my apartment regularly or picking at my face) that I promised to stop once school let out. I realized that within the first weekend of the break, I was still in school mode. I decided to take an initiative on truly relaxing until I could get into a stress-free state of mind.

While it may be one’s initial thought and desire to sit and watch TV all day to relax, it may not be the healthiest way to eliminate remaining stress from the quarter. So, here are some of the things I found helped me finally start my break internally.

Do not schedule anything

I have a habit of scheduling out my days down to the hour. While this does keep me on track, it can destroy my sense of freedom. Whenever things get really busy, I start wishing for a morning that I can sit and not think about the first thing I have to do. Attaching oneself to a schedule can cause moments to be rushed and makes your body and mind unable calm down or prepare itself for the next task. So, for the first few days of your break, don’t schedule anything. Have a day in which nothing needs to be accomplished at any point in time.

Try aromatherapy

I am a big proponent of aromatherapy, mainly due to the fact that I am very sensitive to smells. The National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy states that aromatherapy “can be defined as the art and science of utilizing naturally extracted aromatic essences from plants to balance, harmonize and promote the health of body, mind and spirit.” Whether or not you believe in the physical health benefits of aromatherapy, it is always nice to be enveloped in a smell that is not overwhelming, but warming and likable. Aromatherapy works best in a diffuser, because it properly disperses the smells evenly throughout the space. But, rubbing essential oils on your neck and wrists can provide a more concentrated effect that can travel with you.

Catch up on sleep

Allowing yourself a long nap once or twice is just enough to catch up on your sleep but not enough to mess with your sleep schedule. Taking these naps during the day also solidifies the feeling of “I finally have nothing to worry about, so much so that I can sleep during the day.” Sleeping during the day is a direct opposition to the survival mode that school stress can put one in — since it is safer for us to sleep at night and be active during the day, according to the circadian rhythm.

Go outside

Consider how many hours you spent inside doing projects and attending classes. I know for myself that I probably spent 75 percent of my time inside while getting through the quarter. While yes, it is very cold outside, it is more important that you get unfiltered, natural sunlight and oxygen. Bundle up and spend a little time outside taking some deep breathes and feeling the sun on your face. Breathing outside is especially crucial to lowering stress levels and putting you in a state of relaxation because, according to the American Institute of Stress, “deep breathing increases the supply of oxygen to your brain and stimulates the parasympathetic nervous system, which promotes a state of calmness. Breathing techniques help you feel connected to your body.” Afterward, you can treat yourself to a nice warm drink. It’ll be a good experience of change in environment and a nice treat at the end.

Pamper yourself

While buying a bottle of bubbly or doing a face mask could be valued as pampering yourself, the best thing to do is let someone else pamper you. This, of course, means you must spend a little bit of money —but letting yourself sit back and clean your face or massage your body allows yourself to let down walls and let someone else do the job for you. It can be the best way to start off your break. A cheaper alternative would be to get take-out if you usually cook for yourself, or letting a friend or significant other cook you something. Things like this let you give up responsibility while simultaneously being pampered and treated to something nice.