By Sam Lovett
One of Colorado College’s biggest appeals is the location of the school itself. Whether or not you are “outdoorsy,” CC students are blessed with the stunning beauty of Colorado and its purple majesties every day, no matter the weather. However, despite our easy access to the mountains and nature’s most profound beauty, it is rather difficult for students to cut out time in their day to get outside for that hike, ski, bike ride, or walk because of our school’s academic rigor. Because of this intensity, students are offered a four-day break after every three and a half weeks to finally enjoy the outside. While most students love the block break there is still a need to replenish during the block, and not just save up for the break.
Therefore, it is important to gain a deeper understanding of why replenishing the mind and taking breaks between working and studying is vital for keeping a steady pace on the block plan — rather than just crashing at the end of the four weeks each month. Without breaks, students cannot refuel their energy as “fourth week” approaches, and then the predicted domino effect happens. It is, of course, difficult to allocate free time during the hustle and bustle of CC life: otherwise, there would be no need for this article. But there is hope.
Take advantage of the sun, even if it’s cold — grab a coat — and go outside for three to five minutes at least. The cool, fresh air and the beating sun replenishes your mind and your physical body — or rather, serves as a temporary reset. And make sure to plan designated times to take this break. It does not matter how much you have or have not done. Stick with the plan.
But if going outside is inaccessible, way too cold, or impossible for any other reason, I offer a couple of other options. Still sticking to your schedule of planned breaks, make sure to stand up and walk around. When your body is in one position for too long, your muscles tend to weaken, causing you to slump over. Even consider doing some stretches. Lowering your head below your heart is wonderful for getting new oxygen and blood flow in the brain. I wrote about the following stretches in a previous article but wanted to bring them back to reiterate some ideas for stretching.
I love to do what’s called a “good morning stretch.” Bring your arms over your head and point your toes. Squeeze every part of your body for three seconds and then let go. This stretch is simple, but it brings new oxygen in the blood, giving your body a chance to become more alert.
Bring your feet hip width distance apart and bend your knees a lot. Tuck your chin and slowly reach your fingertips to the ground. The goal is not for you to touch your hands to the ground with your legs straight, but instead to lengthen the spine and bring the chest to the thighs. Once you feel your hamstrings relax, release your head (shake yes and no), and grab both elbows. This time, you can straighten the legs if that feels good to you. Sway your arms back and forth to lubricate the spine. When ready to come back up, bring your hands to your thighs, tuck your chin, and slowly rise up. Give yourself a moment to become stable. Take a deep breath in… and out.
Now that you are standing, reach both arms up to the ceiling, and take a micro backbend by arching your back. Your spine should be warmed up enough from the forward fold, but still, be mindful. If you feel lightheaded, know that it completely normal and should feel refreshing once the feeling has settled.
Do what works best for you and keep to your schedule to fully replenish the mind — don’t save it all for your block break!