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Sparking joy: Self-care tips, tricks for your next week off

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Alas, spring break has come to an end. As we return to the world of midterms, assignments and essays, take the time to reflect on how your week off went. 

Some of us explored different travel destinations, while others spent quality time at home with family. Like myself, if you identify with the latter group of people, it’s all too easy to get into a pattern of spending most of your time binging a favorite show or scrolling through social media. But it's important to make the time we have to unwind more fruitful. Self-care is one of the best ways to do so, as it diversifies the ways in which we de-stress.

A clean slate

An excess of “me time” during breaks can be overwhelming, which is why it's imperative that we give ourselves a clean slate before fully engaging with more archetypal, "fun" self-care activities. A clean slate can mean different things to different people: a digital detox, a bit of spring cleaning, catching up on sleep lost in the semester or even experimenting with a new diet. While cleansing in all its different forms can be tiring, it's incredibly cathartic. For instance, a clean physical space equates to a clean mental space, which would ultimately — according to Marie Kondo’s philosophy — spark some well-deserved joy.

Treat yourself, challenge yourself

The main rationale behind self-care as a concept is doing what makes us happy, as self-care goes hand-in-hand with self-love. Cozying up with a book and a cup of tea, having a spa night and sleepover with friends, participating in some much-needed retail therapy or trying out new eateries are simple but amazing ways to treat ourselves. Revisiting old pastimes gives us a sense of nostalgia and comfort, which can make breaks all the more relaxing and rejuvenating. 

Every once in a while, it's healthy to challenge yourself in your free time. Picking up a new creative hobby — like baking or watercolor painting — is easy and cost-effective when there are thousands of tutorials online that can guide you through it. Even during the school year, try attending yoga or spin classes at the fitness centers with friends to nourish your body and your mind. Self-care is about focusing on yourself, but socializing and having someone to accompany you through the process of self-care can be more gratifying than going at it alone.

Cultural immersion

Time flies if you immerse yourself in the educational but entertaining resources that cultural hubs around New Jersey have to offer. One such resource is New York City’s Broadway. One can appreciate the diverse thespian talent on display by checking out classics like “Wicked” and “The Lion King,” or modern-day marvels like “Waitress” and “Hamilton.” A wacky, must-see sci-fi musical brought to the Lyceum Theatre by its huge fan following on Tumblr, “Be More Chill,” opened on Broadway two weeks ago. It stars Will Roland of “Dear Evan Hansen” and the insanely talented George Salazar from the musical’s original off-Broadway cast.

If you have the opportunity to take an art history class at Rutgers, visiting museums in the city or even the local Zimmerli Art Museum can help you enrich and apply your knowledge outside of a classroom. Walk along New York City’s Museum Mile and admire the artistic and historical wonders around you. 

Sometimes, the museum itself can be a work of art. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright’s Guggenheim, with its great rotunda and spectacular collection of modern and contemporary art, is one such museum. The Metropolitan Museum of Art has a ticketing policy in which students from certain states, including New Jersey, can pay any amount of money that they would like to enjoy the museum if they present a valid student ID. One can spend hours getting lost in the Met’s galleries in all its grandeur. 

Ritualize self-care

Regardless of whether you have time off, taking care of yourself should be simplified and made a part of your daily routine. If you enjoy journalling or making lists, consider making daily or weekly self-care lists consisting of emotionally and mentally rewarding activities that include, but are not limited to: drinking eight glasses of water a day, going on a long walk every weekend, eating a salad (or some chocolate), meditating for 5 minutes, putting on a face mask and even taking a nap. Moving forward, refreshed from spring break, take the initiative to love yourself a little bit more every day.

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