The Drop Off

I must say, not having the constant stress of some sort of assignment due and group project to coordinate and everything else pressing upon my shoulders. Especially as many people face or have just finished a week of final tests and papers, it feels like you’re breathing, actually taking in a lungful of air, for the first time in months.

But that doesn’t mean I automatically can flip a switch and feel content going into my winter break. I’m still in the mindset that I have something due and I’ve just forgotten about it. Maybe I should double-check…

On paper, it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal to go from finals week straight to a month-long break with virtually no cares in the world. There shouldn’t be any negatives at all about getting a well-deserved time of rest and relaxation, right?

For me, despite fully knowing I need this break after the crazy semester I just finished, that doesn’t make the swift change much easier. In my mind, going from constant schoolwork and responsibilities to essentially nothing is an abrupt change to handle. In fact, it can even pull me into my depressive moods to avoid feeling overwhelmed to a new, stress-free schedule.

As much as I probably complain about the immense stress I consciously put myself under, I do so because I need some sort of routine, something to work on to feel like I accomplish something and don’t waste away my moments. You might think I’m crazy for still consistently posting five days a week, but I honestly can’t picture myself doing any less. I have a restless mind, and when I know my depression is at the reins and I have zero energy and motivation, I immediately begin anxious mental scurrying, thoughts about being inadequate and lazy racing through my head.

So even in a time that is specifically dedicated to having free time, I feel like I’m not “spending my time correctly.” That I should be doing more or better somehow. That I’m missing out on opportunities and experiences others are taking advantage of, ensuring that I “fall behind.” The logic behind this thinking doesn’t stand, but that doesn’t mean it ever stops.

The end of the semester directly into winter break, as the title implies, feels like a drop off a cliff, going from one mental extreme to the next. It’s a weird sensation. You second-guess yourself. Should I enjoy this, and uh, how do I do that? I bet you can safely guess how I feel about the several months of summer vacation. (Spoiler alert: I’m sick of it by mid-June.)

Knowing myself and this inevitable cycle I face, I’ve found certain things to help me that can hopefully encourage others who have similar anxieties and exhaustion. As you can see by this post, I am still full-swing on my blog since now I have even more time to devote to writing and putting out some quality content for you folks. I also have my senior thesis project to work on that I’d actually like to completely finish over the break. Again, ambitious, if you can see the trend in my goals, but I’d really enjoy if I could get it out of the way when I don’t have other classwork to think about.

I also should be thinking ahead to summer and my plans for the waiting period between graduation and the real world, at least in the American Samoa. Again, since I know that summer is just a longer version of this empty-scheduled time, I want to make sure I’m preparing for then to avoid a drastic drop-off feeling.

My two biggest tips, then? Both involve planning ahead. First, for this present moment, ask yourself if you have any bigger projects or hobbies you’d like to dabble in that you usually don’t have the chance to do. If you do have any ongoing tasks at hand, whether that’s blogging, working, or anything else, look forward to that consistency and keep it up even if other aspects of your days are freer.

Also plan ahead for the future if possible. As a student, that usually involves looking for summer work and activities, but really, it’s always great to set goals and see what smaller hoops you’ll need to jump through to accomplish those. Having some sort of thing to strive for keeps you accountable and should give you the opportunity to check off an item on a list, by far one of the most satisfying feelings out there.

Some bonus advice would be to keep some sense of a routine in your days. Wake up at the same time every day, have set times for certain activities and meals, and make sure you stick to those. Depression and mental illness in general can feel like an endless fog, but having those little tasks to do again make you feel accomplished, like you did something with your day, even if that was just waking up early or taking a shower.

I’ve been talking up a lot of negatives about the holidays, but honestly, I LOVE the holidays. I’m pumped to be back with my family for a month and spend time just enjoying this time of year. What are you looking forward to this holiday season?

Take care, and keep the faith. -Allie

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