This time of year is always academically challenging as we approach spring break at what feels like a snail’s pace, bombarded by midterm after midterm. My days have started to blend as I try to balance endless studying and taking care of my physical and emotional health, tasks that sometimes feel impossible to manage simultaneously. I have found that this balancing act becomes easier, however, when I have set time aside to let my brain decompress. Recently, I’ve loved discovering activities that allow for a mental reset when I need it most. Prying myself away from my studies can be a challenge, especially when I feel like there aren’t enough hours in a day, but scheduling periodic mental breaks has drastically improved my focus in and out of class. Below are some of my favorite spots to visit in Tallahassee when my brain feels like it has reached capacity.
The Lakefront park
Florida State University’s Lakefront Park is the perfect place to go when I miss being by the water. The park is huge and offers many activities free to students, such as disc golf, canoeing, volleyball and more. I simply prefer just laying out in the sun. This past weekend, my roommates and I brought books and tanned while watching water skiers enjoy the lake, which felt very reminiscent of summer. With my skin burnt a few shades redder and some encouragement from my friends, I swam across the chilly lake onto a floating platform where we made friends with other lake-goers. We ended the day with a picnic on the beach, concluding a perfect Sunday reset and motivating us further to make it to spring break.
Cascades Park is my favorite place to go in the mornings before a stressful day. Located south of the Capitol Building, the beautiful 24-acre park runs along a stream and contains tranquil scenery.
My roommate and I have recently made a habit of walking through the park in the mornings, and I have definitely noticed its positive influence on the remainder of my days. Beginning my day outside and in the company of a friend drastically reduces the anxiety I feel when looking forward to the rest of my day and gives me the energy to tackle whatever it holds. Being reminded that beautiful things do surround me (even in Tallahassee) is essential during weeks when I’m stressed and not able to get outside much.
fat cat books
The next serene spot combines two of my favorite things in the world: cats and books. Fat Cat Books Tallahassee is a small used bookstore that is home to numerous cats, who you’ll always find napping on windowsills in the sun or tucked away inside a bookshelf. The books are all donations, making the selection affordable and creating a diverse range of genres for the enjoyment of any and all readers. I will shamelessly admit that I spend more time with the cats than with the books, but I like to pretend that kitty therapy is the key to academic success. Every cat at the bookstore is also available for adoption, so I encourage everyone to experience the awesomeness of this store and potentially find their new best friend!
the other side vintage
Conveniently located on the same street as Fat Cat Books, The Other Side Vintage is a vintage store where you can find almost any trinket, article of clothing or household item imaginable. Their leather jacket collection is my personal favorite to look through, but I usually like browsing more than buying. Exploring aisle after aisle with my headphones on allows me to tune out the rest of the world and get lost in my own for a while. Stimulating my brain with textures, colors and fabrics is a welcome distraction from the mind-numbing effects that follow staring at a computer screen for too long. Even on days that I leave empty-handed, I’m always glad I made time to turn my brain off and walk home feeling refreshed.
Regardless of whether you choose to visit one of the locations on this list or to find your own mental-break space, it is so important to focus on yourself and take time to reset, especially in stressful times! Discovering fun and healthy ways to balance school, work and self-care has helped me to prevent looming burnout and resulted in a more successful midterm week.
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