Reading period gives us a great opportunity to relax and take time to engage in activities unrelated to school. Once the long awaited break is over, we return to our busy routines and again sacrifice peace of mind. During the stress of exams and classes, it is easy to spend time budgeting every minute around how to most effectively study without planning time for fun and sleeping.
In conversation, a busy schedule and no time to sleep seems to confer certain bragging rights where students verbally compete over who is really taking on the biggest workload. Here at Lawrence, having a balanced and varied schedule is just as important as focusing on academics, and the value of relaxing is too often trivialized.
Deciding who has the busiest schedule, spends the largest amount of time in a practice room daily and has the greatest amount of work to finish is treated as a competition too frequently. Students rant and discuss their rigorous schedules with their peers in a way that ignores the fact that many other students share the same burden. We are all in charge of our schedules and how we choose to budget our time. Instead of letting it become overwhelming, a realistic approach should be taken in what can actually be accomplished over a period of time. Our bodies and brains can only handle so much before we have a breakdown. None of us at Lawrence is Superman or Superwoman, and we cannot concentrate on school work 100 percent of the time. For sanity’s sake, it is necessary to take a break and go for a walk, draw a ridiculous doodle or sit with a friend contemplating the meaning of life.
Exercising and taking care of your body requires time out of the day, but it also reduces stress and focuses the mind, making memory and learning a faster process. Concentrating on schoolwork is much easier after a long run than after hours of class and schoolwork. Pausing to go for a run or exercise is a valuable practice. On my long distance runs, I feel my body and mind connect and can take in my surroundings more completely. The stress that is released when running facilitates sense experiences; I can fully appreciate the smell of freshly fallen rain, the wind blowing through my hair and the color of the leaves dropping around me. Reading without comprehension with an unfocused mind is counterproductive. Instead of reading the same paragraph over and over without retaining information, strap on a helmet—unless you are a rebel—and escape on a long bike-riding adventure.
A cautionary note: Relaxing does not mean standing still and going catatonic. Take a chill pill and indulge in doing what you want. Meditate. Step back from your goals. Take a walk and distance yourself from where your obligations lie. Watch Netflix and stalk other people’s lives on Facebook. Pick your nose. Fill a coloring book. For a while, wander from your obligations and relish the moment rather than allowing stress to consume all of your thoughts and actions.
Worrying and limiting yourself to focus on only one thing causes you to miss out on too much. Envelope yourself with something you are passionate about and moves you without any effort. It is worth it.