Gaffney: How to make your winter break a lot less boring

You can smell it the moment you finish the last question on your final. You can feel it as you emotionally place your pencil back in your backpack. Oh yes, you’re never going to see that disgusting thing again. You can practically taste it as you triumphantly hand in your exam, bidding adieu to your disgruntled professor and wiping your memory completely clean of anything you’ve learned in the past 10 weeks. What is this incredulous, enigmatic “it?” Freedom.

Winter break has come.

For a while, winter break fulfills every fantastical expectation. You get to binge-watch Netflix and sleep for as long as you want, nestled in your bedsheets beside a stuffed creature from your youth. In my case, it is a lamb alongside an accumulation of pristine Pillow Pets. You get your laundry done on an impressively frequent basis and you routinely gorge on enough food to sustain a humpback whale. In other words, you live in a state of sweet nirvana.

However, as the days draw on, you find yourself getting progressively bored. This isn’t what freedom was supposed to feel like. You didn’t slave away studying for weeks at the Knight Library, maniacally breaking down into your gyro from Caspian’s for this.

You resort to new lows in an effort to entertain yourself. You voluntarily help your mother decide what salad to buy from Whole Foods. I stress the word voluntarily. You readily walk your dog even though you’re definitely aware that it’ll stop every two seconds to sniff each and every leaf. You take drives around town while concurrently suffering an existential crisis as you pass the golden arches of McDonald’s. Dare I say it, you may even begin to fart on your sibling more often than usual.

Winter break was supposed to be liberating, right? It was supposed to be a period of relaxation and decompression from the hypothetical hyper-speed treadmill that you wheezingly run on for most of the year. But it’s not. Why?

As college students, we’re used to a constant barrage of work, extracurricular activities and social plans. Does that mean we always like it? No, but we’ve certainly adapted to it. In theory it makes sense. We are intelligent, cognitive human beings who thrive off of personal fulfillment. When we reach a plateau of productive activity, it can lead us to the opposite side of the spectrum in contrast to stress: psychosis-inducing boredom.

Although we all need a period of time to relax in the comfort of our childhood homes, we also need to combat the boredom that we fall victim to. And yes, there are ways in which to achieve this. None of my suggestions are particularly revolutionary, but my suggestions may help spare you from crawling up the walls of the bedroom you’ve had since you were five years old.

1. Read a good book. This doesn’t have to be a book that your high school teacher would have adored and scholars continue to debate over why the main character said “Hi” instead of “Hello.” Read a book that’s interesting and appeals to you. Last winter break, I read Unbroken, which is coming out in theaters this Christmas day. It truly changed me as a person.

2.Go to places that you haven’t been before. Yes, this can be tricky, especially if you know the layout of your hometown like the back of your hand, but it’s not impossible. Eat at that new café on the corner, venture into that antique shop you forgot existed, explore an unfamiliar part of a park or forest and beyond. You never know what place might become your new favorite spot.

3. Do some simple things that make you happy. Indulge in a coloring book. Paint on an easel. Write in a journal. Go mountain bike. Swim. Play a game of basketball with some friends. Engage with others and pursue your passions that you haven’t had time to connect with over the eternally busy college term.

4. Finally, spend time with family. Whether you’re close to them or not, they’re the people that you’re stuck with. Whether spending time with them means cracking open the old Monopoly board or going out to the city for the night, do something that makes all of you happy and communicative. Put down the phone and simply talk to one another. You’ll enjoy it a lot more than you thought possible.

Your time away from school can be whatever you want it to be. Just make sure it’s time well spent.

Follow Ciara Gaffney on Twitter @CiaraGaffs

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Ciara Gaffney

Ciara Gaffney