As I drove into my small hometown of Centerville, Ohio at the end of last semester, I felt as though I was being weighed down.
Since my freshman year, I have always felt a certain dread about going home for the extended break known as “J-term.” I don’t know how the place that I used to feel so comfortable in feels so unfamiliar to me now.
As happy as I get to see my family and friends, I’m always sad at the thought of leaving Oxford and living at home for weeks on end with not much to do.
Every year, I manage to fall down the same hole and it always takes a tremendous toll on my mental health.
I think that one of the biggest things that causes this for me is the loss of my normal routine that I got used to during the fall semester.
My J-term usually comes with a new fixation on a show or making the impulsive decision to dye my hair a different color. During this year’s break, I watched “Game of Thrones” in less than a month and I decided to go blonde – classic.
This has become a winter routine of mine. During J-term, you would usually find me in bed binge-watching a show or scrolling through TikTok for hours, passing the advertisement that tells me I should take a break multiple times. Days would go by where the only time I would leave the house was to go on a coffee run.
At the beginning, I always excuse this behavior as being worn out from my finals. As the break goes on, I get more comfortable with laying in bed all day and letting my mental health deteriorate.
Then the last week before school sneaks up on me. I notice my mental health declining and schedule a therapy appointment – which always seems to help me get through the final days of being at home. But, it’s a total pattern.
There are a lot of reasons why this slump happens over winter break: missing my friends at school, losing a stable routine, the cold weather or not having responsibilities when I’m home.
I always tell myself that I will do more during these breaks and make the effort to l hang out with friends from high school. My parents always say that I should start a new hobby or exercise more often. But, I always fall into that same pattern every year during break.
As the new semester kicks off, I’m worried about how I’ll be able to get back into my normal schedule while adjusting to my classes, work and extracurriculars.
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I feel overwhelmed at just the thought of walking across campus for my classes, let alone sitting through the class and paying attention to a lecture.
I usually adjust to this schedule after about a week, but this is always the hardest part of my year and it never seems to get easier the farther I get in my education at Miami.
So, if this sounds familiar to you, just know you’re not alone. I know I’ll adjust in the coming weeks, and I hope you will too. Because, like it or not, we all need to dump that winter slump eventually.