How to Keep Calm and Carry On at Smith College

Photo courtesy of | Chapin Lawn is a beautiful spot to stop and slow down – even in the cold months ahead.

Photo courtesy of | Chapin Lawn is a beautiful spot to stop and slow down – even in the cold months ahead.

Nora Turriago ‘16
Opinions Editor

There is a certain intensity that comes with being a student at Smith. Heavy workloads, constant deadlines, long to-do lists and endless meetings for extracurricular activities all take a toll on the students. The passionate and ambitious student body, however, adds an extra layer of intensity. While it is inspiring to be surrounded by such dedicated students, noted for their intellect and achievements, there are also downsides.

When everyone is constantly racing to do the most – to get the best grades, to apply for the best internship, to take on as many leadership positions as possible – slowing down and relaxing takes a backseat. The high expectations Smithies place on themselves and each other results in competition, stress and unhealthy behavior. In an environment that fosters conversations such as the “Stress Olympics” – that is, if one student complains they pulled an all-nighter studying, another student will then declare that they have been up for the past 48 hours, and so forth – it becomes all the more crucial for students to take moments to just stop and relax.

Yet this is becoming harder to accomplish both on and off Smith’s campus, as even the society we live in fosters the desire to always be on the move, plugged in, working more, striving more, constantly on. What’s a Smithie to do?

From frantically completing endless school assignments to an overwhelming dependence on technology, the simple act of being alone with your thoughts is almost a radical proposition. Though it can often seem as if there is always something to do, finding brief moments to just sit and re-charge from a hectic day is essential for the well-being of any Smithie. Simply enjoying the walk from the Quad to Seelye Hall, stopping by the Botanic Gardens or observing nature around you can create a sense of calmness. Being in nature, exploring downtown Northampton, curling up with a good book or just jotting down your thoughts are all ways to relax and decompress.

Smithies, I challenge you to turn off your technological appliances for at least one hour a day and focus on what is around you: your thoughts, your breathing, where you are, what you see. Try a relaxing activity that takes your mind off your workload, be it going to a Zumba class or having dinner in town with friends. Taking time to recharge provides perspective to best use your energy. Making sure to have fun, to socialize and exercise, to relax and laugh and to get off Facebook every now and then will make you feel both happier and healthier. While doing well in class is important, feeling constantly stressed and overwhelmed is neither necessary nor fun.

At the end of the day, treating yourself with kindness and patience is the most important thing you can do. Best of luck, Smithies – keep calm and carry on!

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