Things that Kept Me Sane the Beginning of Summer Break

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Standing between the end of my semester and the start of my job and internship were 2 weeks of free time. While it’s been much-needed, I like keeping busy and tweak out after a few days of doing nothing. Fortunately, I’ve spent a lot of time catching up with loved ones, but it’s also helped to go into this break with specific intentions. I wanted to get into a better routine of #selfcare to reset after a stressful semester and make sure my s*** was together before my summer schedule picked up. Below, I’m including things I’ve been up to since finishing school that helped me accomplish these goals and/or kept me entertained in my free time.

Entertainment

Music

It’s hard to lure me away from classic rock; the closest I usually get to mixing things up is revisiting my emo stage. After one too many girls currently “going through it” posted Lizzo songs on their Instagram story, though, I finally looked her up on Spotify. All I can say after listening to her is WOW. For days she was on repeat no matter what I was doing, and I even stomped around my neighborhood listening to her latest album when I finally accepted things weren’t gonna work out romantically with a certain someone. My favorite Lizzo songs are “Truth Hurts” (duh) and “Jerome“. She really knows how to make women feel confident in their own bodies and drill in the fact that none of us need men while avoiding the cliches that often dominate these “f*** men” types of songs.

I typically avoid country music as passionately as I gravitate towards rock, but I allow a few exceptions like Johnny Cash and the unproblematic goddess Dolly Parton. Recently, I added Kacey Musgraves to that list. She’s iconically beautiful like the old country singers my mom and grandmother love, but she’s also refreshingly modern and authentic. Her songs are sensitive and written with so much love and care, and I don’t feel like a hick listening to them! My favorite song of hers is “Dandelion“.

Movies

These 2 recent additions to Netflix may be pretty basic recommendations, but if you’re someone who’s been immersed in either Game of Thrones or anything Ted Bundy, your opinions on that are automatically void.

After seeing the clip of Gina Rodriguez singing along to Lizzo on Twitter, I knew I had to watch Someone Great. Unlike the Nicholas Sparks movies we grew up with, this movie had an ending that girls in our day and age are way more likely to experience in their 20s: picking the dream job, losing the guy and having a couple amazing friends to help them get through it. The supporting characters also had super relevant storylines, ranging from dropping a relationship that gave stability but lacked passion and navigating a LGBTQ relationship that’s a healthy, positive experience. Also, the soundtrack slapped and color schemes were gorgeous!

Next, I watched Knock Down the House. Imagine the story of David and Goliath except David is a woman passionate about helping her community and Goliath is a complacent politician who values corporate funding more than the people he represents. The movie follows the campaigns of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Viela, Cori Bush and Paula Jean Sweargin (all progressive Democrats). This movie gave me more information about these candidate’s backgrounds and made me more aware of what goes into campaigns, especially when the candidates lack experience and financial resources. It also opened my eyes to how many problems can arise when politicians, no matter what party, align themselves with different corporations. In this tumultuous time for woman right’s, watching these badass women put themselves out there and find some success was refreshing.

Books

This past week, I read a book I now consider the most transformative self-help book I’ve ever encountered. And this is coming from someone who read parenting books for fun as a child and refers to How to Win Friends and Influence People as their own personal bible. When I first bought The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck, I thought it was going to be some douchey guy in salmon shorts telling me others have it worse and that apathy is the only solution in this crazy, messed-up world. I only gave it a chance because people I know recommend it, but thank God I did.

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck is actually about personal accountability and being selective about what you “give a fuck” about by defining healthy values, ways of measuring your success, and boundaries. Through Buddhist concepts, personal anecdotes, famous success stories, etc., Mark Manson explains that we’ll suffer no matter what we do, and rather than trying to eliminate this experience we should instead strategically choose to suffer in ways we enjoy that align with our values. For example, if someone wants their dream body, they may have to suffer by having to exercise every day and not indulge in foods they love as often. On the other hand, if someone wants to eat whatever they want and not exercise, they might have to suffer with not having their dream body. Either option is valid; people just have to chose what will bring them to their happiness and goals. He also doesn’t try to sugarcoat bad experiences or provide temporary relief from them either, instead he encourages people to acknowledge that what they’re going through sucks and then work to authentically move forward.

Please please PLEASE consider reading this book and let me know if you do! It’s already changed the way I go about things so much and reading it was like getting hit in the head with a book and being told to grow up in the best way ever.

Shows

After months of seeing her name on social media, I wondered what all of the Marie Kondo business was about and checked out her show on Netflix. As it turns out, Tidying Up with Marie Kondo is such a cute show! In it, Marie visits homes inhabited by a variety of individuals and families, each with their own clutter struggles. She teaches them how to downsize by getting rid of things by category and only keeping what “sparks joy.” She then teaches them how to organize what remains in a way that creates the most welcoming space possible. By watching Marie help people on her show, viewers also learn how to get rid of and store things. Something that makes Marie’s method stand out is that she encourages people to honor the items they’re getting rid of and “thank,” them, something that can make downsizing easier for sentimental people like myself. I definitely recommend this show, especially if you’re struggling to organize after returning home from school.

Downsizing

Speaking of Marie Kondo and her downsizing techniques, I knew I’d have to take drastic measures to organize my room when 3 separate “move out” trips were barely enough to get all of my stuff home from school. In order to unpack, I first made room for my clothes by getting rid of a ton of them. Some things didn’t fit anymore or were no longer my style, but I also made a point to get rid of outfits that I associated with different chapters of my life. For example, there was one black dress I had worn on a big date with an ex, to a wake and to one of my first (and most stressful events) I had planned as a student leader. This dress was versatile and had served me well though a lot of moments, but I had grown and changed a lot since those times and as weird as it sounds, wearing the dress made me feel like a snake crawling back into skin it had already shed. As much as getting rid of clothes doesn’t seem that deep, it can actually be a cathartic experience.

If you’re in the NH area, a great place to sell used clothes is Plato’s Closet (also a very fun place to shop), and I usually bring the clothes they don’t take to a donation bin by the Chester General Store.

After getting rid of old clothes, some other helpful things to do were:

. Getting rid of makeup and beauty products that were old or I no longer used

. Clearing out my drawers and throwing out random papers, small items and things that were broken.

. Putting cards and other sentimental papers into boxes.

. Designating a corner of my room for things I regularly use like my laptop, calendars and journals to make them accessible.

. Folding the things I was keeping better

I did these things over the span of a week, and it’s great to be able to walk into my room and see the ground again!

Planning

Since my group of friends at school and I are (maybe too) obsessed with each other, we printed out calendars of May-August to plan out when we would see each other. When I got home for break, I also made sure to add every appointment, vacation, event and day I’m interning to it so I can have everything right in front of me. Using these printouts to stay organized has allowed me to optimize my free time and spend it doing the things and seeing the people I want to.

Keeping up with something I do during the school year, I wrote a giant “To Do” list in a notebook I have. I plan to update it by writing a list every week, carrying things I didn’t get done over to the next week and adding things on and crossing them off as I go.

Technology

As a Communications major, I thought my life would be more technologically-centered than ever. It’s true when it comes to work, but I’m working on making my personal life a different story. After taking a Digital Culture class, I learned about how much social media can hinder our happiness, ability to be present and the quality of our relationships. Over the years, I’ve caught myself checking my phone while spending time with others too often and have spent so much time I could have used in better ways mindlessly scrolling though social media. This is something that isn’t good for my or anyone’s mental health, and it’s lowered the quality of my time both alone and with others.

As a result, I knew changes had to be made. When I’m eating or with others, I try to keep my phone in my purse or somewhere else in the room face down, and the same goes for when I’m go on a walk, watch TV, read, etc. In meetings, classes and work, where it’s tempting to look at my phone, I’ve tried to keep it away not just out of respect for others, but also to grow a better attention span and focus. With social media, I’m trying to become more intentional about what I post; rather than documenting everything I do, I’m trying to only post things I really like (which is still probably more than the average person). Not posting every time I’m doing something fun has felt good because it makes things feel more personal and ensures that my only focus is enjoying the moment.

Body Care

The first thing I do when I get done every semester is get a facial. It’s relaxing for sure, but the best part is feeling like I’m getting an entire semester of stress, bullshit squeezed out of my face. I always go to Bare Necessities Day Spa in Londonderry for facials, because the facials are good, the place is relaxing and the staff is great!

Because I haven’t started my summer job yet, I’m putting off signing up for a gym membership until I have money. In the meantime, I’ve tried to get creative with exercising. Fortunately, I live by a cute dirt road that loops around so I go on 40 minute walks through there most days and enjoy the nature and saying hi to people’s dogs and barn animals. I also look up different workout print outs on Pinterest and do yoga on my deck when it’s nice out. One of my friends recommended Yoga With Adrienne to me and now I love her videos!

Like not being glued to a phone, making an effort to eat fruits and vegetables may be one of those mature things I’m late to the game for. Recently, I’ve realized not only does eating healthy allow you to achieve/maintain your ideal weight (something I think our culture puts too much of an emphasis on as a beauty ideal) , it also gives you better skin, more energy and so many health benefits. As a result, I’ve been trying to add fruits and vegetables to my meals, and substitute them in for my typical deserts and snacks. Obviously I still indulge junk foods I love, but with more ~balance~ and ~moderation~, and so far I feel better!

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Thank you so much for reading, especially if you got all the way to the bottom! If you have any self-care tips, things you enjoy doing in the summer or things you’ve been watching/reading/listening to, drop your recommendations in a comment! I hope all of you are enjoying your summers!!

 

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