Kaitlyn Staags: Disconnecting to Reconnect
The quarter system is great for many reasons. We get to experience more classes, learn with more professors, meet more students, and are exposed to more academic material. However, about halfway through spring quarter, May hits. The schools that are on semester systems begin to finish, and it feels like we are on the last leg of the race.
Santa Clara’s beautiful weather makes everyday feel like vacation. So, naturally, this year, I struggled with the beginnings of a burnout. The classes that I normally loved so much seemed to drag as I looked out the window at the sunny skies and felt the pull to be out in nature.
Just as my motivation started to slip, my Critical Thinking and Writing professor gave our class some exciting news: three professors had received a grant from the Residential Learning Communities that their students were a part of. My professor happened to be one of these three, so he proposed that we take a trip in order to gain appreciation for the lands that we are on and reset within the serenity of nature on a camping trip! I was ecstatic, and I figured, what a perfect opportunity to take a break from my fast paced life and relax within the beauty of nature. So, on one Friday afternoon, I piled my sleeping bag and a change of clothes into a school minivan, greeted familiar and new faces, and left my mind and heart open to whatever the weekend might bring.
On the drive up, I watched as the service bars at the top right hand corner of my phone screen dwindled, one by one. When we got to the top of the mountain, we were alone with nature. We practiced mindfulness while eating and hiking and connected ourselves to our surroundings, with our phones disconnected from the outside world. The trip shifted my focus off of my unread notifications and pressing emails and onto the bigger picture of caring for the world that I am so blessed to live in. I was reminded that an integral part of caring for that world is caring for my own mental and physical health. Now, when I find myself slipping into patterns of stress in school, I am reminded to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. A healthy lifestyle includes finding ways to ground yourself in the work that you do. I have also learned that sometimes, in order to stay present in the work that you do, it is helpful to prioritize your well being over the stressful components of day to day life. A clear mind allows you to keep focused on the things that really matter to you. Now, as I near the end of my first year of college, I am reinvigorated with a new passion for the things that I do, and I am excited to finish the year off strong!