*Employer in Adele voice* Hello. It’s me. I was wondering if after all these emails you sent to me, can I call you, before you come in?
Hi I’m Sargam, and I’ve got something to share with you.
“English summer eating up the atmosphere
Day-time bathers sleep in the shade
Clouds crawl over dampening our attitudes
People run for shelter from the pouring rain”
– ‘English Summer’, by The Moons
Well, we did it. Mild or not, our first winter here in Toronto has come to pass, and we’re in one piece! With one final flurry of tests, I’ve wrapped up midterm season, too. It’s a peculiar feeling – one on hand, having so many evaluations has made time pass by awfully slowly. On the flip side, it feels like freshman year has passed me by entirely too quickly.
With the passing of reading week, somewhat begrudgingly, this past Monday marked the restart of classes. While the break definitely provided a much-needed period of rest, trying to get back into a school mindset the past couple of days has been quite the challenge. When we were in high school, spring break was the closest equivalent, but the difficulty levels of the courses puts the re-adjustment period on a level of its own.
“Happiness is not for the faint of heart”. These are words I remember from a life-altering lecture I attended this past August.
Over the summer I had the opportunity to attend the Canadian Fitness Professionals conference, a multi-day event with the biggest names and faces in the fitness and health industries. With hundreds of educational sessions, workshops, and classes to attend, it was a wonderful opportunity to be immersed in new ways of thinking, moving, and being healthy.
My favourite speaker of the day, Petra Kolber, spoke at a panel discussion titled “Mind Before Muscle” and again in her own lecture called “The Happiness Epidemic: Catch It If You Can.” As a fitness professional and positive psychology guru, Petra introduced me to a concept called FLOW. This term describes the moment in time when time disappears, when we are challenged in a way that matches our skills – when we are in what we often call “the zone”.
She explained that being in a state of FLOW is one of the most important things we can do for ourselves to contribute to being happy. Happiness, she said, is not a steady state, but something that we have to train ourselves to achieve. She recommends a minimum of two hours of FLOW a week as our basic training exercise.
Finding FLOW, or recognizing the activities that bring me peace and joy, is something I have been trying to identify ever since. Whether or not I appreciate them as FLOW-inducing exercises, there are tasks that I complete in my daily life that make me feel whole.
“It’s such a cold, cold world (hello cold world)
And it’s got me down, but I’ll get right back up, as long as its spins around
Hello cold world” – ‘Hello Cold World’, by Paramore
The winter blahs are still in full swing, and we don’t even have snow this year to brighten things up. On top of that, midterms are here to keep us preoccupied. Thankfully, February also happens to be #JoyAtUofT month, to help us get some inspiration from each other as we attempt to stay positive in a time of year when it’s all too easy to be down.
I can definitely relate. Granted, I don’t have any full-year courses this year, so I didn’t have any assignments/essays due at the start of the semester. Midterms have come along equally brutally, though. I know I complained about them last time around, but the added blasé of the season seems to amplify their effect on my mood. Grey skies, wet concrete, and barely a hint of snow on the ground have characterized many of the days I’ve had to make the walk from Chestnut to campus.
It’s times like this that finding some joy in life can really make or break my productivity levels. I’m way more likely to get things done when I don’t feel like Eeyore all the time. Amidst all the chaos, squeezing in time to do the little things that put a smile on my face is definitely worthwhile. Frantic as I should be studying, spending time relaxing in the common room among friends can lighten the load on my shoulders, even if it’s just for that brief period of the day. It could even be as simple as making a food run to Med Sci with the gang. Getting out and pursuing hobbies such as photography have a similar effect, letting my heartbeat and stress levels fall to healthy rates.
Joy for me also comes from extracurriculars. Being a member of this awesome Student Life Community Crew has been an experience I wouldn’t trade for any other; I get to see some of the most creative people I know, every week. From hearing their ideas in the meetings, to reading the final product each day, it’s easy to see why Student Life chose them to represent the student body in this way, and I feel privileged to be a part of it. The Blue Sky Solar team that I signed up for just a couple of weeks ago, has already proven to be a source of escapism from the world of academia, if only for a little bit at a time. Researching alternative designs for software, with the promise of soon getting the chance to actually write the code to match, has been a great ride so far.
The weather might be uninspiring, but there’s still plenty of things that manage to lighten up the atmosphere. Be sure to share what brings you #JoyAtUofT on Twitter and Instagram – I’ll be keeping an eye on the hashtag to get some ideas!
“Woke up this morning I was laid out flat on the dark side
With the moon and the room on the wrong side
I took a needle, sewed myself right back at the seams
I saw my universal gleam” – ‘Flick of the Finger‘, by Beady Eye
Liam Gallagher might not have the same vocals he did back in Oasis’ heyday, but his last effort to bring back the glory days with his (now disbanded) Beady Eye did bring back some of the open lyrical interpretation the band was known for instigating – but I digress. Nevertheless, it makes for a great quote that can relate to the idea of starting the new year with resolutions. It’s a time of year when – for whatever reason – you can see your errors more clearly, and when you decide to pick up the metaphorical needle and attempt to sew yourself back together again. I’m not typically one to fall into the societal norm of setting resolutions specifically to ring in the new year – but given that this will be my first full year as a university student, I decided to give it a shot.
There’s no doubt, this time of year can be full of emotions. We are reminded of all the things we witnessed and experienced over the past twelve months. Google is reminding us of what we Googled. Facebook is sharing our top moments. We count down 2015’s top songs, movies, sports moments, inventions, new stories, and of course, funny memes.
This time of year also calls on each of us to consider our personal Year in Review. I love counting down to the New Year, and feeling all the hope that comes with a fresh start. Looking forward with a vision for the next year can be daunting, however, I believe it’s important to reflect on our accomplishments and milestones from the past year.
Once exams are over, I often take some time to check in on how things are working in my life. I encourage you to try doing this too – patiently, thoughtfully, and truthfully. I like recording my thoughts down on paper so I can get a visual se. What were my ambitions for 2015? Did I achieve them?
As I was walking down St. George the other day, I heard snippets from other peoples’ conversations. I promise, I wasn’t eavesdropping; I just forgot my headphones and I was bored. Anyways, these are the kinds of things I heard:
“Blah blah blah blah stressed blah blah blah failure blah blah forget blah tired blah blah I can’t blah blah blah…”
UofT, it seems we are in a sorry state of affairs at present. Of course, it’s to be expected at this time of year. We’re all just trying to put in that final hustle and make it to winter break.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’m actively trying to face my final assignments with a more positive outlook; I’m trying to use my stress as a motivator. I want to appreciate every moment that I have as an undergrad student. However, I want to make something very clear:
None of that makes the work easy, and it certainly doesn’t make it go by any faster. Continue reading
This past month has undoubtedly been one of the more strenuous months of my life thus far, and that probably goes for a lot of my fellow freshmen. Midterms hit me hard and have left me feeling absolutely exhausted. Even though mental wellness month just ended, I still think it’s important to make sure sure that I head into the second half of this fall semester with a healthy mindset.