Never underestimate the power of a good walk. This week, feeling fatigued and exhausted, I decided to take advantage of the sunshine by squeezing in a relaxing walk in between my classes. Heading into the woods by Paradise Pond, I was alone, with only the snapping of branches underfoot and the occasional dog walker to keep me company. Here, in this solitude, I took a mini-vacation from the stresses and demands of being a college student.
I walked slowly then would stop to enjoy the view of the pond, examining the bark of a tree, glancing up ahead, trying to spot the squawking birds. I sat down by the pond, resting on a log. I had no rush and, indeed, no destination. With the sun warming my face, I smiled, glad I had made time for myself.
There is something about being in nature that is so incredibly rejuvenating. I found that listening to the wind, watching the flow of the water carry leaves, and examining the trees overhead helped me take a break from my internal worries and thoughts. Instead, by focusing on the nature around me, I was welcomed with a deep breath of perspective. Regardless of whatever stresses I faced, the rippling of the water would always be there. Regardless of whatever worries I had, the trees would continue to stand, observing, as hawks circled up above. My stresses were not permanent. They would pass. Whatever I experienced—positive or negative—I could always count on returning to this nature scene, in two days or in two months, and experience the same sense of calmness. Talking a nature walk helped me get outside of myself and keep perspective. I returned to my dorm, full of energy and happiness, fulfilled by the subtle beauty of nature that is so often overlooked or taken for granted.
When Smithies are in the midst of midterms and faced with a never-ending list of assignments, going for a walk is probably not a priority. In fact, it may even seem like a luxury you don’t have time for. However, there is much value in simply taking a break, and finding time to be alone with yourself. Find a quiet spot—maybe in nature, maybe a cozy corner in your room—to sit and breathe. Take this time to check in with yourself. Note what is around you, how you are feeling, what’s going through your mind. Remind yourself that just because you may be overwhelmed, you can still appreciate the sunshine and blue skies. Having a quiet space will not only help make midterms bearable, but also show how solace can be found in solitude. For more information about finding a quiet space, see Smith’s list of spiritual journeys.