Lately, more than usual, I’ve been missing having time to read for pleasure. My room at home is stacked from floor to ceiling with books. There are some in boxes under my bed, some on the shelves, and others literally piled all over the floor. Being a reader has never been less a part of me than in college. That is not to say that I don’t read – I read every day. Pages and pages of Econ textbooks, history narrations, and online articles all occupy my time. What I mean by a “reader” is someone who does it by choice. Someone who sits down with the intent to read something for no other reason besides simply wanting to discover what’s inside the book. I know that I’ll go back to my old habits during summer; I always do. I wonder what about college it is; for some reason, every time I have a moment to spare, my first thoughts are usually “nap,” “friends,” or “TV” in that order. I guess it’s because I never needed a brain break as badly in high school as I do sometimes in college. And while I wholeheartedly believe that reading (especially for pleasure) is an excellent way to allow your brain to relax, sometimes it’s just easier to go for something more mindless.
Having said this, I have discovered lately that writing is, surprisingly, an excellent brain break. Lately, when I feel stressed out, I’ve been opening up a word document and typing exactly what pops into my head as it shows up. Stream of consciousness is a highly effective way of relaxing and getting your mind off of everything you have to do. Even if I’m writing about my current problems or about all of the stuff I have to do, it still calms and reassures me. For some reason, getting it all down on paper helps me organize my thoughts and make a plan for how I’m going to accomplish all of it. I turn on music (just a side note, if you’re looking for the BEST spotify study playlist of all time, look up “Celia loves to score – AY” – it’s one of my good friends’ and it’s amazing) and sit for a while and type away at my computer. I never save my work – I’ll go back and read it once or twice, but after that I don’t give it a second look.
I’m not sure if this method of relaxation is a product of the way I write or if it’s just the way I, specifically, handle stress, but for some reason it’s very effective. I’ve tried so many other methods – yoga, breathing techniques, going for a walk, you name it – and nothing works as well as sitting on my bed and writing out my thoughts.
I’m not sure if I’ll continue to do this after I’m done with the bulk of my schoolwork. Maybe when I get home, I’ll start reading for pleasure again, or maybe I’ll continue to do this. Either way, it’s a useful tool.