[ Stephanie Baldwin, 2L at the University of Arizona ]
When I was a 1L, Fall break was a relief. I had just taken 3 midterms, and was exhausted like the rest of my fellow 1Ls! After I darted off to Vegas for a friend’s wedding, then traveled to the east coast for a baby shower. I remember also having to work on my memo because a first draft was due when we got back to school. While it was fun to see my friends, I didn’t really get a “break.”
This year, I am on fall break right now, and I took a completely different approach. I stayed home. Boring, I know, but it was what I needed. I also had a few summer and spring employment events to attend, so staying home was ideal, so I didn’t miss those. But to be honest, I still would have stayed home!
Last year was too much between traveling, airport delays, and schoolwork for me to really relax, and since today is World Mental Health Day (October 10), I wanted to share my Fall break self-care tips.
Check-in with yourself!
No seriously. This seems like something obvious to do, but it’s surprising how often we ignore what is going around us or put things off that should be a personal priority. Ask yourself, what do I need right now at this moment? Today? This week? For me, school-related issues always come to mind first, then work, then family and friends, and then last, me. But fall break is a great time to put your needs first.
For example, before the semester started, I had started making plans for fall break, but then I remembered what I felt like last year, and I told everyone I would have to see what the midterms schedule would look like. Then as I thought about it more, I realized I would need some serious downtime. Even though it would have been a ton of fun to visit Florida with friends, I would have been exhausted. I put “me” first, and while my friends were disappointed not to have me join them, they were 100% supportive. They even included me in their adventures through Facetime and Snapchat. It was fun to watch their adventures… from my couch!
Catch Up With Non-Law School Friends
I wasn’t completely self-sequestered during fall break. I also took the time to reach out to my non-law school friends to meet up for brunch, breakfast, and happy hours. During the school year, I find myself playing phone tag with many of my friends, so I made it a priority to connect with them this week, even if it was just by phone. It is always good to have a reminder of your “previous” life. Fall break is the perfect time to reconnect!
Take Time to Breathe!
During each day, this could be something as simple as using the “Breathe” app on your apple watch, or if you don’t have a similar watch, just do the 4 – 7 – 8 breathing method. This is when you inhale for 4 seconds, hold it for 7 seconds, and then breathe out for 8 seconds. Doing this helps lower your stress levels and can help you focus. Making a point to do this each day during fall break, can help make this become a habit, and can help during those stressful days at school. Check out this article from the Mayo Clinic about how breath can help you de-stress!
Change your Scenery
For some, fall break can be the perfect time to getaway. I loved watching my law school friends adventures in Hollywood, Sedona, Hong Kong, Paris, and New York… again from my couch. A change of scenery doesn’t mean you have to go far. It’s a great time to go for a hike, a day trip, or even a great drive. For me, I love driving, I love stargazing, and this week there were two meteor showers. I could have taken a trip to Sedona or Flagstaff or even back down to Tucson, but I know of this perfect little place in Phoenix that has great views of the night sky. I drove there one night to catch the showers. It was perfect, and 100% relaxing!
Start New Habits
Fall break is also a great time to put some new habits into place. I hate cooking. There I said it. However, this Fall break, I made it a goal to learn how to cook 3 new things that would be easy to make while I was down at school. It was simple, but this week gave me some time to experiment, and it was fun finding recipes I liked that I could master.
I think the big thing is that self-care doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and all of these things can be done during the school week. Fall break just provides a wonderful opportunity to focus on self-care!
What are your favorite self-care tips? Let me know over @The2LLife on Twitter or Instagram.