The art of relaxing

What CWRU is really teaching

Abby Armato

Snow days present a myriad of opportunities. With this newfound time, we can get more than four hours of sleep, or work on that essay our SAGES professor assigned us the first day of class that’s due tomorrow, or finally start that New Year’s resolution to go to the gym once a day. Yes, we are blessed with these magical 24 hours to be productive.

But, as an exhausted, hardworking college student, I found it my responsibility to rebel against this idea of productivity. Let the bells of procrastination ring on! Alarms off, I woke up at the comfortable time of noon, played several rounds of Candy Crush, and made my lazy way to Leutner Commons for lunch. I had only one plan for the day: “The Lord of the Rings” marathon. Extended edition style. For too long I had been ostracized by family and friends for never having experienced the magic of Middle Earth, but today that would all change.

To be completely honest, I loved every bit of the three hour, 48 minute film. And not just because of Elijah Wood’s gorgeous eyes or Orlando Bloom’s luscious locks. Instead, I loved it because it was wonderful to watch the dazzling and exhausting adventure of Frodo Baggins while gorging myself on snacks, wrapped in blankets, not going anywhere. Who cares if the fellowship was lost in the mines for four days without rest? I didn’t care as long as I didn’t have to move. If CWRU had hoped I’d be productive during my day off, they were sorely mistaken.

Nope. I was not productive in a do-all-the-homework-I-was-assigned-for-the-next-week sense. At first, I felt guilty for not doing so. I had set the lofty goal of getting ahead of my schedule to spend more time watching Pushing Daisies over the weekend. Instead of finishing up work, I had binged on J.R.R. Tolkien and Peter Jackson. But, as I write this after finishing my marathon, I realize that I had been productive. In fact, I had experienced the best kind of productive there is. I had time to myself.

Alone-time. Downtime. Self-time. A time by any other name would still feel as sweet. This was the time to chill and be chill. To kick back and recharge. On the surface, there was only one day of classes to recharge from. But I can easily think back to long nights and early mornings of last semester and feel quite justified in having a relaxing day. Because this day was all about resting and enjoying myself, I feel more ready to do the work that will come tomorrow.

Giving time to better myself makes me more able to handle the challenges yet to come. That qualifies as productive.

I think to a large extent though, I feel pressure to avoid this kind of productive and constantly be busy. Because, really, there is so much I could do with my time aside from being alone and relaxing. I could study, join a club, direct a play, get a job, be with friends. And for most of this year, I have chosen to keep busy instead of relaxing. When I was finally alone in my dorm room, I would go straight to bed and let the next day start. I was constantly exhausted, but at least I could tell myself at the end of the day that I had kept myself busy.

I can’t say that it was this snow day alone that made me change my mind of this constantly-busy existence. Somewhere between falling asleep in my anthropology class last week and watching Sam run after Frodo at the end of the first “The Lord of the Rings,” I decided that this always being busy thing was not going to work anymore. I needed a balance. A balance between trying to do everything and get enough sleep. So I developed a new motto.

It’s okay to be alone. It’s okay to be alone and just relax. It’s okay to be alone and let the day unfold. It’s okay to be alone and watch hobbits and humans and elves keep themselves busy.

You are plenty busy enough.

Don’t wait for a snow day to give yourself a little alone-time. It’s not procrastination, just a different breed of productivity. You’ll be rested and happy and that much more ready for tackling your own quest tomorrow.

Abby Armato is a first-year student currently majoring in English and anthropology. When she is not freaking out about impending adulthood, she enjoys various strokes of creativity, determination and passion.