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The Daily Tar Heel

Editorial: What to do over Winter Break

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DTH Photo Illustration. Mental health expert, Dr. Alan O'Barr, tells UNC students to carve out time for themselves by doing things such as reading books as they near the semester's end.

It’s so close we can taste it. 

As final exams loom, something else does, too: freedom. Because once this nightmare of a semester finally comes to an end, Winter Break will begin. Two glorious months, full of promise, without deadlines or Zoom classes or never-ending assignments.

But as wonderful as those two months of uninterrupted leisure time sound, we’ll admit we’re worried about one thing: boredom. What will we do with ourselves for that long? Who will we become once the crushing weight of academic expectations is lifted from our shoulders? How will we make it through without disrupting the delicate peace we’ve brokered with our families and our roommates?

Netflix and sleep won't last us forever. So, we’ve decided to be proactive. If you, too, are wondering how to pass the time, don’t worry! We have some ideas.

Try your hand at visual arts.

Whether it’s painting, knitting or investing in an adult (or children’s) coloring book, it’s never a bad idea to channel your inner artist. Making visual art has been linked to reducing stress and anxiety — which we probably all need right now — and increasing cognitive function. Not to mention, it’s something you can do with (or without) other people. Maybe try hosting a COVID-19-friendly Bob Ross Zoom party with your friends! The possibilities are endless.

Read a book.

One thing we never seem to have enough time to do is read. Let Winter Break be your chance to finally catch up on all the books you’ve been dying to read, but haven’t had the chance to. Try purchasing a book from an independent bookstore (not Amazon!), or borrowing an e-book from your local library. Most libraries have thousands of virtual titles you can borrow free of charge — all you need is a library card.

Learn a new language.

If you’re disappointed with the lack of study abroad opportunities in the wake of COVID-19, we completely understand. Prepare for future opportunities to travel and pick up an important skill by learning a new language on your break! Downloading Duolingo (#notsponsored) is just one of many free ways to expand your foreign language skills. Imagine coming into the spring semester being able to speak French or Spanish. What a flex.

Learn to cook.

Tired of eating ramen and frozen pizza for dinner every night? We are, too. Hone your chef skills by trying out a few new recipes over break. Your stomach will thank you later. 

P.S. Your University-sponsored subscription to The New York Times gives you access to NYT Cooking (and, notably, the NYT Cooking app). You’re welcome.

Become a plant parent!

Go to your local plant nursery and pick up a few plants! Having house plants has been shown to boost your mood, reduce stress and improve indoor air quality. Plus, learning how to propagate plants can be a great skill to have come Christmastime. In need of a present for a friend? Boom. A pothos. Just make sure to tell them to water it!

By now, we hope you’re familiar with a few different ways to spend your Winter Break. But it’s important to mention that, unfortunately, some typical break activities aren’t safe options this year. Please avoid hosting or attending mass gatherings, and remember to do your part to combat the spread of COVID-19.

The safety of our friends and family members should never be compromised for a party. There will be plenty of time to party in the future, but for now, let's keep ourselves and our community safe.


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