As part of the University’s guidance on COVID-19 and the remote semester structure, here at USC the traditional week-long spring break has been replaced with a series of spaced-out wellness days throughout the semester, meant to provide brief respites from class and involvements in a way that does not involve students leaving campus for extended periods of time. 

While as a senior this was initially another disappointing addition to a semester that has by all accounts been entirely different to the traditional senior spring, as I wrap up my first wellness day (Friday March 12th!) I am excited to say that perhaps it is not quite the burden some of us thought it would be. While traditionally spring break is an opportunity to travel quite far from the Los Angeles and USC bubble – the week long break is typically enough to justify a trip out of state, for example, and in the past I’ve used that as an opportunity to visit my family abroad! – this time, a single day of wellness does not lend itself to anything quite so dramatic. Our first wellness day fell on a Friday however, leading to a slightly longer break – a long weekend. 

While I was initially skeptical about getting a real break or being able to truly feel relaxed over such a short period of time, I took the opportunity to go on a camping trip with my roommate, and visit not one but two national/state parks! As someone who did not grow up in California (or even in the US) and not having done a lot of outdoor activities growing up, being able to explore national parks has been one of my favorite ways to (COVID-safely!) destress in the last year, and this first wellness day was no exception. Being able to disconnect from my classes and at-school involvements (literally, since I had no phone signal all weekend) was a blessing, and truly let me focus on rejuvenating my mental health and reminding me about all the wonderful elements of my life that I sometimes fail to stop and appreciate in the hectic day-to-day of regular life.

Me visiting Red Rock Canyon State Park, CA!

While I recognize that being able to pick up your things and go camping for a weekend is not necessarily easy, or something that everyone has access to in the context of this pandemic, I think the key takeaways from my experience are applicable generally to taking days off to take care of yourself. 

Turning your phone off (or to airplane mode), spending time outdoors (this can be a hike, a walk around your neighborhood, or even laying down on the grass in a nearby park), and distracting yourself with exercise (I’ve recently found yoga sculpt to be incredibly fun and intense enough to take my mind off work!) are all ways I’ve found helpful to detach from the stresses of everyday college life. Hopefully some of these work for you too 🙂 
Sheetal Madnani

Sheetal Madnani

MAJOR: Chemical Engineering YEAR: Class of 2021 HOMETOWN: Guangzhou, China PRONOUNS: she/her/hers INSTA: @sheetalmadnani On campus I have been involved with Model UN, Freshman Academy, and interning abroad through the Global Fellows program! I also conduct research in environmental policy and climate mitigation, and am involved in climate advocacy through the LA Mayor's office.

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