A Deep Breath: Tips for Time to Yourself
By Sara Kassir, The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Friday, February 22, 2013
I have yet to meet a Dartmouth student who can’t find a way to keep busy. Regardless of course loads or extracurricular commitments, being at least a little bit in a rush a lot of the time seems to be the norm on this campus. We all have a tendency to walk just a little too fast and to have just one too many things on our plates. Yet somehow, we’ve come to accept perpetual activity as our normal state.
But even if being busy is normal and good in many respects, there’s no way that everyone is constantly running at full speed. Even the most type-A, multi-tasking control freak you can think of needs to take a break once in awhile. But given that you probably didn’t pick Dartmouth for the selection of day spas in Hanover, you might be wondering where exactly to go for that much needed time-out.
The funny thing is, if you ask Dartmouth students where they go for down time, they almost always respond with confusion.
“You mean like, if I want to sleep?”
Well, I suppose. But I don’t really count finally taking a nap after pulling two consecutive all-nighters as “down time” — that’s more a matter of survival. I’m talking about genuine relaxation, not because the alternative is a psychotic break, but because you want to take a few minutes from your day to recharge, refuel and reevaluate. Still confused? Well, here are a few places to try out that might bring you some clarity.
If the weather isn’t unbearably cold, a common go-to among Dartmouth students is the stroll or run around Occom Pond. Given that this is meant to be a time-out (relaxation, not exercise) I would personally choose the former, but if you’re trying to get some cardio in and it’s not too icy, jog your heart out. A solid one-mile loop, the pond is notoriously picturesque and, more importantly, the path is usually pretty empty, so feel free to circle it while contemplating life until you get dizzy. The pond is most serene when it’s not cold enough for ice skaters and not warm enough for those happy people in search of some sun. A solo walk coupled with a phone call to a friend you haven’t talked to in a while is prime, but sometimes it’s nice to take a buddy along.
Once in while, it’s best to couple relaxation with a bit of mindless productivity. For example, if you’re like me and constantly behind on checking blitz (thank you, listserv), the Tower Room is one of the most underrated spots in Baker-Berry Library. Lacking in the facetime and requisite sociability of KAF, Novak or First Floor Berry, it’s ideal for some highly personal down time. Many students complain that the Tower Room is too dark and comfortable to be conducive to real studying, but that isn’t the goal here. It’s also delightfully reminiscent of Hogwarts. But be warned — the wall outlets only have two prongs, so charging your computer might be a nuisance.
When you really don’t have to be doing anything important and want to literally escape from campus, just head into town. I know it seems a little anticlimactic given the physical proximity, but it can be nice to wander around where not every face is familiar. And if you’re in need of some retail therapy, last time I stopped in J Crew, they happened to be giving Dartmouth students 20 percent discounts.
After living in the same dorm for two consecutive terms, I finally started taking advantage of the study lounge in my basement. Almost always empty and usually very clean, these spaces can be a great alternative to your own room for those times when you feel too claustrophobic or want to spread out a bit more. And if you’ve yet to put away that laundry you did last week, sometimes it’s nice to escape your own mess. But as I found out a few days ago, if you leave your stuff in one of these spaces, it might be locked when you come back due to the College’s security policy. And no surprise, Safety and Security is less than enthusiastic about coming to open them back up. If you ask me, they probably need some down time of their own.
Other time-out locales cited by Dartmouth students include their own rooms and Greek houses, as well as obscure spots in classroom buildings or the library that they are less than inclined to share in print with the masses. But on a campus like ours, where everyone is always busy and bustling, can you really blame them? Sometimes, you need an escape. So make the time to take some time and find yours.