This time of the year can be hard. It’s constantly dark outside, the wind chill is normally freezing, it takes an extra ten minutes to get anywhere because you have to account for the traction of walking through snow, and midterms begin in January and don’t really stop until April. If you’ve been in a slump these past few weeks, I am with you. However, I’ve also developed some habits that help me get out of the slump, or make the slump a little more bearable.
1.Exercise: Like Buckley’s, it’s awful, but it works. It’s an instant energy booster. It feels similar to drinking coffee except it doesn’t weigh you down throughout the day and it’s good for your long-term health. I also think it’s important because, unlike school or a job where you work as a means for an end, working out is solely for your own benefit. It helps clear the mind and also makes me feel less sad throughout the day. When I’m actively taking care of myself, I get an “I can do anything” mindset which is really uplifting when the world feels a bit bleak.
2.Mindfulness: I think it’s important to take a breather every once in a while. Mindfulness doesn’t have to be yoga or meditation (although, these are wonderful ways of relieving stress, and the Multi-Faith centre runs sessions throughout the week). Mindfulness can also just be taking time for yourself. When I feel mindful, I instantly gravitate toward painting, drawing, journaling, or playing an instrument. I think it’s really important to pick up hobbies where you can create and express yourself without overworking your mind. School can be exhausting. If I’m not ripping my hair out trying to understand some 17th century philosopher, then I’m writing papers about said 17th century philosopher. Like with exercising, it’s really refreshing and energizing to start a task for only yourself. If you’re in a slump, play soccer with friends, pick up a paintbrush, or a guitar. Ukuleles can be pretty cheap and accessible if you’re looking for a new activity. Mindfulness can also include prayer and other spiritual practices that can take the load off of your shoulders, and remind you there’s more to life than the daily stress of work, school, and relationships.
3.Keep busy: I feel the worst when I’ve just finished an assignment-heavy week and crash immediately afterward. Often, this looks like sleeping in, idly strolling through my days, not getting any work done, etc. While I do think it’s important to take breaks and relax after a hectic time period, if the relaxation lasts for too long, I start feeling worse. After you unwind, I highly recommend getting busy again. This includes going to libraries, going to club meetings, going to the gym, and going to fun events. For example, this week, I attended the Open Mic Night event at the Multi-Faith Centre. The East Asian Commons and UofT’s Ethics Club teamed up for a night of music and dialogue. It was really enjoyable to sit and talk to others about their opinions on culture and identity, without the stress of being judged or graded, like in class tutorials. If I feel like I need to get away and clear my mind, going to one of Toronto’s many art galleries is always an inspiring and calming experience. The AGO, the Gardiner, and the ROM are a few museums and galleries close to campus. Recently, I also made time to see Portrait of a Lady on Fire at Tiff with some friends. Leaving my house to talk to others about interesting topics, or to watch a beautiful and captivating movie, were the highlights of the week. If I feel busier, I feel more productive and more fulfilled.
4.Spend time with friends: Laughing is, arguably, the best medicine for a being in a slump. Not only can friends instantly lighten your mood, they’re also more likely to relate to the problems you’re having, so you can find ways to cope together. Sharing thoughts with one another and talking about your slump can help you get out of one. Overall, isolating yourself is one of the worst coping mechanisms in times of trouble.
I hope some of these suggestions are helpful! Life isn’t always easy or fun, and how you can make the best out of a bad situation takes many forms, and it also depends on the individual. My best advice is to try to come up with creative solutions to lift your spirits, and always remember to prioritize your health and wellbeing.