I always look forward to summer break as a student because it means not having to worry about balancing classes and work. I look forward to the sun, playing basketball in the driveway with my siblings and even walking around the neighborhood with my little nephews. But above all, summer means taking a mental and physical break from the days of hard work and busy life. It is a time to unwind, kick back and relax. A time to take in all the vitamin D before Minnesota’s long winter returns.
When I take time to enjoy the warm air and sunshine, the world appears to be very small. All my worries turn to dust because the only thing on my mind is how blessed I am to be having this experience. But reality kicks in as soon as I go back to my daily life. Many of us are job hunting, looking for internships, going to work, planning for graduation, planning for the future or even taking summer classes. Thinking about questions like “What now?” and “What next?” can be very exhausting, especially after more than a year of living in a pandemic.
It has come to my attention how little time we got for ourselves. We were in a year of struggle and hard work, academically speaking. Some of us did as well as we always do, while others just wanted to erase that one year off their record because of poor performance. Most of all, though, I do not think we had any time to just breathe. It was all “get up and get going” without a “sit back and relax” period. Even if we wanted to steal those moments from our busy routine, life got in the way. I realized that I am completely burned out. Now, all I want to do is sleep. I want to lay down with my eyes closed and not have to think about life. I want to drift into a sweet dream, fly through the air and look down on all my mundane life worries.
It is all wishful thinking, though, because life demands and we comply in order to live and survive. We have a never-ending to-do list that we dread crossing items off of. I know it all sounds gloomy if thought about that way but ultimately we can reprogram our thinking. Our perspective on our lives can make life heaven or hell, though that is not to say that we do not face obstacles such as job rejections, overdue payments, family issues or work problems.
But these things are just part of life, the good and the not so good. I did not want to call them problems because our programmed minds will want to take a negative stance on issues that arise, allowing them to dictate our daily life outcomes. I do not think there is anything wrong with facing issues in life, but it is a matter of knowing when to take a break and keep ourselves from burning out. It is a matter of pacing ourselves and having priorities. Burnout is real — you know it when you feel exhausted, empty and even have difficulty just dealing with life.
So despite adjusting to changes on mask mandates and getting back to a semi-normal life this summer, steal those moments from your busy days to unwind and relax, to breathe in and breathe out, and to maybe even let the sun warm your face.
I like to imagine having an invisible wall that runs across my waist. I use it to push down all my life’s issues so that they do not crawl up to my mind. It is like having a certain threshold that life’s issues can reach but cannot pass through. I think not taking in all that goes wrong is one way to reduce stress and live the life you want while dealing with surprises that might arise. Take a deep breath and pace yourself. Good will always surpass the bad.