How to Reflect and Refresh after the Draining Fall Semester

"Congratulations! You have completed what has probably been the strangest college semester. Have a great winter break!"

This is what many students have most likely heard from professors, TAs, and others during the last week of classes. But what does it really feel like to actually get through an entire semester fully or mostly online? From what I have felt so far, it has been a relief. No more awkward breakout rooms. There are barely any pending assignments and none of my classes have a final (which is not the case for many students but the semester is still basically over). I can finally stop repeatedly checking Moodle and my email. 

Until next semester. 

It seems like a good time to reflect on this semester and decide what went well and what didn’t since the spring is also going to be mostly online. After reflecting, I will be taking a much-needed break and refreshing myself during the winter break, and you should too. There was a great lack of face-to-face interaction during the fall semester and it can be draining to only focus on schoolwork and not much else. Checking in on mental health and overall health and wellness is important both during and after the semester. 

So binge-watch Netflix, spend time with friends and family (in a safe manner), dance like nobody's watching, and just focus on your growth. You deserve it! Attending college is a big part of your overall growth as a person. But a semester at Zoom University with no holidays is exhausting. Forgetting about all of that over winter break will provide the strength to slay the spring semester. The body and mind does not work at full potential without the proper rest. 

Sleep. Just trust me on this. School can cause people to become robots who spend hours just completing assignments, especially if there is nothing else to do because a pandemic has led many of us to sit in our bedrooms all day. That is beside the point. The point is that students forget to sleep because it seems counterproductive. Take winter break to get at least eight hours of sleep and develop somewhat of a normal sleep schedule. A good nap and a full eight hours of sleep every night can restore focus and lead you to feel like a new person. It is an important part of wellness and maintaining good health.

After spending the majority of the semester online, it is also a good time to unplug. Not just from the laptop but also from social media. Disconnecting for a while can help to realize that there is more to enjoy in life than continuously scrolling through Snapchat, Instagram, and TikTok. There are countless ways to disconnect such as baking (maybe some holiday goodies!), reading for pleasure, going for a drive, taking a walk, or working out. Even one hour away from any electronics can help provide a new sense of satisfaction.

Start reflecting on the fall semester just before winter break ends. Don’t think of this as a reflection to complete for a class but rather as something that will redefine your mindset. The best way to go about this is to just start writing and keep going until content. Think about how you felt at the beginning and how you feel now after three months of school and two months of a break. I guarantee you will find some sort of revelation from rereading what was written.

My revelation? No bad vibes. Bring positive energy and you will attract the same. Most of all, never settle for less and for those who make you feel like you are less worthy.