Staff Editorial: Ways to find brightness in the midterm gloom

This year, the fall semester has been compressed to a short few months, forcing the eradication of Fall Break entirely and shortening Thanksgiving break. Breaks have traditionally provided students a reprieve from school work and activities, but with the retraction of breaks this year, students must push through the monotony and lack of energy that arrives at this point in the semester, both of which can be harmful to students’ mental health. The members of the Student Life Editorial Board share their methods on how to de-stress safely during this fall.

Don’t do an assignment
Listen, you’ve worked really hard this semester. You’ve taken exams, written papers and stayed on top of tedious side tasks. Your instructor might not cancel one of your assignments. But why not do it for yourself? Save yourself an hour and let that quiz “slip your mind.” What’s the difference between a 98% and a 96% anyway?
-Dorian DeBose, Senior Sports Editor

Switch up your schedule
Making small changes to your daily routine can help to ease the effects of pandemic burnout and to help you feel more refreshed in the absence of a well-deserved mental health break. Even in the most monotonous and draining of semesters, I’ve found that the details make all the difference. Finding a new study spot for an afternoon, going on a morning walk, trying out a new coffee order or even putting on your favorite outfit can help lift your spirits and make you feel just a little bit more present as the days start to get more cold and dark.
-Jayla Butler, Managing Editor

Make something
I learned how to knit many years ago. It was something I dropped during my first two years of college—there was simply never time. Now, I am knitting more than ever. I knit during my Zoom lectures. I knit while listening to assigned podcasts and TEDTalks. I’ve even begun taking my knitting to my in-person class. For me, it’s about making something physical. Online school feels distinctly different than in-person school, and it was hard for me to feel like I was making progress. Now, I just look at the socks/gloves/blanket/etc I have knitted this semester, and I can see that I’ve made something.
-Isabella Neubauer, Senior Cadenza Editor and Copy Chief

Eat dessert
With online classes and barely any social activity going on, the days have become unbelievably monotonous. I often feel like I rarely have something to get excited about in the way I used to for dinners with friends, live performances or dorm hangouts. So I try to make sure I always have something to look forward to: dessert. Nothing gets me through a day of Zooming like knowing that in a few hours I’ll get to dig into that tub of ice cream in the freezer. Now, I understand dessert may not be the thing that keeps you motivated, but that means you just need to find your own form of dessert. Something to look forward to, like an episode of your favorite show or a regular call with a friend. However, if you are, in fact, like me, I recommend cake a la mode. 
-Jaden Satenstein, Multimedia Editor

Call someone you care about
During my freshman and sophomore years at Wash. U., I would call my family no more than once every couple of weeks. Now, I find myself calling every few days, and the calls are a highlight every week. They serve as an escape from college life and a reminder that life exists beyond the seemingly endless readings and midterms. It doesn’t have to be a family member: maybe it’s a friend from a summer job or a childhood neighbor. Even if it’s a 10-minute chat as you walk to your surveillance test or splash through the gloom, a call to someone you care about can brighten your day.
-Matthew Friedman, Associate Editor

Have a movie night
Sometimes you just need to escape reality for a couple hours, and there are few better ways than by curling up with a fuzzy blanket and watching your favorite movie with friends. Fortunately, there are still several ways to host a movie night while being socially distant and mindful of COVID-19. From Netflix and Disney watch parties to drive-in movie theatres and even renting an AMC movie theatre (it’s cheaper than you’d think!), movie night is not going anywhere. So grab your friends and watch that movie you’ve been waiting to see, I promise you might just feel better. 
-Kathleen White, Director of Engagement

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