When my Peer Advising Leader (PAL) first passed out leaflets on Winter Term, I was intrigued. These included musical and creative opportunities as well as STEM-based investigative endeavors. Following an intense first semester of my first year of college, I was looking for a way to simply unwind. I had been stressed about a particularly hard class for which I had requested a tutor and also didn’t want to deal with the stress of flying home mid-pandemic and coordinating transportation options. I wasn’t too keen on hitting the ground running for the three-week break between semesters. While other students opted for individual internships or study away/at-home projects (which are so awesome!), I decided to stay on campus and try out one of the available group projects.
Several programs filled up rather quickly, but I was able to come across a non-selective, open-enrollment “bootcamp,” designed to organize, structure, and practice the implementation of looking after the self. Its synopsis emphasized relaxation, positive energy, and good vibes. In order to reclaim inner tranquility, to take some time away from the hustle and bustle of the everyday, and to ease the mind, I decided to sign up.
So what do we even do? What does self-care look like? Welp, here’s the schedule!
10 a.m. - yoga and meditation
I wake up, gather my yoga mat, and head to the Carnegie Building’s huge Root Room for some morning movement. Aside from some internal morning mental monologue groaning about having to wake up for a yoga session, I really do enjoy and appreciate the opportunity to challenge myself physically and mentally by gently encouraging my relatively inflexible body to reach outside its comfort zone. I do find myself heavy breathing through some of the stretches, especially those involving the hamstrings, but I can breathe through them and ease up on the strain. We always begin yoga with some light movement, then slowly progress to standing motions and poses, and finish lying on our backs to segue into restful meditation. Meditation is a nice way to relax a bit before grabbing something to eat!
11:30 am - lunch break
During the lunch break, I head to the Stevenson Dining Hall (Stevie) to get food with a friend. We retreat back to our first floor dorm kitchen to eat and talk. Before I know it, it’s time to head back to Carnegie. Then, it’s “goodbye” and “see ya” and I get back to it, returning to the Root Room to engage in the activities of the day.
1:00 pm - individual/group activities
Every day we focus on a new theme: leisure reading, fitness, rest, mindful eating, mindful listening, mindful cleaning, mindful play, mindful seeing, routines, arts and crafts, friendship, perspective, guidance, love, service, and envisioning.
Each activity is peaceful, informative, and only requires each participant to show up to the extent they feel comfortable. Every person cares for themself differently, so reading, fitness, rest, etc. all look different for everyone. They can be singular or collaborative. They can be discussion-based or self-reflective. I’ve come to understand that comparison is futile because each individual is unique from everyone else. I’ve learned to become more forgiving of myself, more gentle with self-expectation, and more compassionate, by setting intentions rather than having a make-or-break kind of end goal.
I’ve especially enjoyed establishing a creative habit. I started making at least one origami creature every day, beginning small with dogs, cranes, fish, butterflies, many birds, and jumping frogs. It has transformed into dinosaurs, elephants, rhinos, snakes, penguins, phoenixes, and a family of several dragons. My new paper neighbors are slowly but surely beginning to take up the entirety of my desk shelf. I’ve had to a place a few onto the tops of books, binders, and bins to fit all of them!
I have even started to implement some additions into my daily routine. For instance, I take some time, even if it’s just a few minutes, to meditate in the morning. I’ll also journal before I go to bed to eradicate the worries of the day from my mind. It’s all about knowing that there is a pathway to inner tranquility that allows me to successfully navigate a crazy and hectic schedule. I’ve devoted a significant amount of time to making sure that I can feel relaxed, calm, and peaceful.
So if you’re looking for a relaxing Winter Term, try it out! On-campus projects can actually be really enjoyable and very fulfilling. If you visit Oberlin, ask your tour guide about what they’ve done for Winter Term and I guarantee you’ll find it interesting!