School Hacking #7 – The Importance of Downtime

Just a little while ago, I was finishing up my hours for Faith in Action while volunteering at St. Therese Villa, which offers assisted living for the elderly. I absolutely loved the time I spent there, organizing activities and getting thoroughly schooled in any and all sorts of board and card games. Once or twice the conversations took a turn towards the more meaningful. The one that stuck with me the most was over a game of crib, with a lovely woman named Marie. A brief, quick-notes version of the conversation might be something like this:

“Oh, now what’s that band that my grandson just loves?…Nickelback. Yes, Nickelback. Now, do you know of their song, ‘If Today Was Your Last Day?’ Yes? Well, I think that some of us need to realize that we sometimes need to live our life as if today wasn’t our last. No, Kima, that’s not fiteen, that’s sixteen. You put that peg back two notches!”

In addition to this little anecdote, over a coffee break, I was discussing my current high school life with some of the staff I worked with on a fairly everyday basis. In response to some of the tales of late night studying and frantic project finishing (sometimes you don’t have to be lazy to be swamped last minute) I was laughingly told that their high school days were barely remembered and somewhat of a blur.

Now, in the moment, a lot of things can seem overwhelming and all consuming, and some of us can be driven to panic-filled evenings and stressful weekends. But then, once over and done with, sometimes we can wonder what all the fuss was for in the first place. I think that if we could just understand that while, yes, everything we do deserves our best effort, we shouldn’t let ourselves imagine each test, project and paper as the next imminent apocalypse.

So many of us have responsibilities outside of school life; there are sports to play, movies to see, books to read, friends to act stupid with and laugh with. It can, at times, be too much. While it is important to keep up with our studies, to get enough exercise and socialize, sometimes, we need to take down days for ourselves.

For some reason, in a society that is all go, go, go, with things to see and do, we can forget the importance of slowing down for a day, for a couple hours, or even five minutes. When was the last time you simply sat still, wrapped yourself up in music, in a book, in nature? I, myself, not a month ago, went on a weekend trip with my parents to Waterton, where I went on a five hour hike through the snowy forest. There truly is something powerful and honestly healing about being in the quiet and serenity of the fauna and flora, to disconnect from the hectic, electronic world that has constant demands over our lives.

There are responsibilities we can’t ignore, but we also cannot afford to completely shut off awareness of our own bodies and souls. The result of an ignored psyche can be far more catastrophic than deciding not to study for that test, this one time.

While I am not saying to ignore everything in order to simple do what makes you happy all the time, you have to know your limits, and be willing to occasionally put yourself first and give yourself that downtime. While you wouldn’t eat a whole cake every day, sometimes, it is downright good for your soul to let yourself indulge in a piece of that chocolate mousse, layered fondant and caramel drizzled masterpiece.

Especially coming up to exams, you must take the time to let yourself recharge, in order to do as well as you would like to. Taking that half-hour break to play some Assassin’s Creed, watch the latest episode of that show, kick around a soccer ball (once the weather finally lets up!) before once more hitting the books can actually do you far more good than pushing yourself to finish reading that final textbook page.

So, my final advice? Listen to what your body, soul and mind really need from you. Know when you can power on through, but also acknowledge that not taking that break may wind you up to the point of a meltdown – trust me. Me and Math have been there many times before, and sometimes, putting down that calculator and walking away for the night, waiting for a fresh start in the morning, is far more preferable to chucking it at the wall after another ten minutes of mind-bending calculus.

Force yourself to relax, let things simply happen to you, and take pleasure in them. Being in constant movement isn’t always the best thing; sometimes, you need to give yourself permission to simply be a couch potato before tackling that next marathon.

And with that, adieu. I hope you have an awesome week.

(And start going to bed earlier! You know who you all are!)

– Kima


Kima Hazelwood is a Grade Twelve student at CCH. She enjoys writing and reading fantasy, baking, and belly-dancing. Her favourite things about CCH are all the wonderful staff members and linguistics classes.


1 Comment

Filed under SchoolHacking

One response to “School Hacking #7 – The Importance of Downtime

  1. Mary Anne

    Hi Kima,
    What a delightful piece you’ve written! What a joy for your former teachers to see you share your insights so eloquently! I am proud of you!
    Your advice rings true for all of us regardless of where we are along life’s path. Recently I read an article in which the author stated “Life is not an emergency.” The psalmist who penned Psalm 46 says the same thing, but so beautifully and memorably: “Be still and know that I am God.”
    Keep writing, Kima. God bless you as you finish up your grade 12 year and move on to your next adventure!

    Mary Anne Wensveen


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