Sophia Zhao

I click on the picture of a girl sitting next to a bunch of flowers, with electric blue headphones, smiling with her eyes closed, “Relax & Unwind” in thick brown letters in the top right corner. The Spotify playlist description reads: “Melodies to let your worries and cares slip away.”

In the basement of Becton, I look at the gray concrete walls, which is not necessarily a sight conducive to letting your “worries and cares” melt away. We all have those “worries and cares” that can be a little stubborn and refuse to go away with the swiftness of a slip. Staring at the walls, I realize that I sometimes don’t show myself enough kindness to fully relax and unwind, especially when every single thing in my life seems to devolve  into a problem. I look around and see friends who, like me, don’t take the time to unwind. Sometimes I see strangers in the library, on the street and in class who look visibly stressed. 

So in case you happen to be a Yale student who is stressed, which I know is a small subset of the student population, here are some personal ideas to let your “worries and cares slip away” as the Spotify playlist description suggests. 

I usually start with detangling the thoughts, feelings and ideas that are floating inside my mind. At times everything becomes so inseparable that I stop functioning properly. That’s when I take naps! I feel like there is a certain quality to taking naps that reminds me of the “this thing did not shut down correctly, do you want to report the error” message you receive when an app stops functioning. When all you want is to detangle your ideas and feelings, naps usually aren’t the most useful and enlightening option. But I almost always wake up with a little more energy, slightly more patience, a pillowcase mark on my face and the inevitable “this thing did not shut down correctly, do you want to report the error” message. I am this thing. You are this thing. At this point in the semester, we all are these things.

As much as I enjoy running away from my problems, when I actually want to confront my worries, I journal, a passion that is currently becoming my one and only character trait. My journaling doesn’t begin with “dear diary,” though. It hasn’t since 2009. It’s more of an “I have to write–sketch–draw–doodle whatever’s happening inside of me” situation. My journals must be the most chaotic lumps of paper I’ve ever seen, but they are the lumps of paper that allow me to let out what is consuming me. Sometimes it’s writing pages and staring down at New Haven from the top of East Rock; other times it’s doodling random cartoon characters around sentences that try and describe my worries as I dig into an entire scoop of Arethusa ice cream. 

I write down quotes from movies, stanzas from poems I’ve read, one-liners from my friends. I write down my thoughts when I can’t stop thinking about certain things or when I want to talk to people I no longer talk to. I draw random lines, circles and spirals when I have feelings inside me that I can’t yet put into words. Those pages look like my journal took a trip to daycare and was experimented on. And that helps me relax, unwind. It lets my “worries and cares slip away.”

You don’t even have to have a physical journal. Get scraps of paper, doodle on the back of this newspaper, fill in the margins of those readings you didn’t do, write frustrations on the empty pages of your old bluebooks.

There are times, however, in which I can’t even pinpoint what my worries are. My mind is occupied with the immediate things I have to do during the day. That’s when I take long — sometimes several-mile-long — walks. Sometimes on my own, sometimes with friends. Walking and thinking, walking and talking… There is something in walking that lets ideas flow. There is something even more liberating in a walk when you don’t have to travel from point A to point B. Try going on meaningless walks — it could offer you a peaceful moment of solace and reflection.

I believe, as the last item on this list, it is appropriate to actually leave you with a few songs to “let your worries and cares slip away”: “Parfum thérémine” by L’Impératrice; “Melody noir” by Patrick Watson; “Unintended”  by Muse; and my all time favorite “On Every Street” by Dire Straits.

Take a deep breath, listen to the music and unwind for just a moment. I don’t know you — I don’t even know if you’ve read this far into this list — but you’ve got this!