It is always extremely difficult to come back to school in August, prepared to plunge head-first into the looming pool of work, stress and responsibility. All you can do is reminisce about the wonderful memories you made over the past summer lazing around, carefree and worry-free. But, in reality, as college students today, the concept of leisure has nearly vanished from our lives. We voluntarily fall into a vicious cycle of attending classes, studying, working and running around until our feet are ready to fall off. Basic necessities such as food, sleep and personal time are seldom accommodated for in our asphyxiating schedules.

Many of us need to take control of our frenzied lives. We need to make, not find, the time to take care of ourselves, whether it be mentally, physically, emotionally or spiritually. We are tested at our limits as we strive to balance our academics with our extracurricular pursuits. We are taken to new highs and lows as we battle through endless exams, recitations, labs and meetings. We need to hone our bodies to take on the duress that we relentlessly put them through.

In Rochester, fatigue and stress can make our bodies vulnerable to the cold weather. More often than not, the vast majority of the school falls victim to some campus-wide plague. So to keep yourself healthy, make a conscious effort to eat three complete meals a day with adequate vitamins and minerals. Force yourself to schedule routine visits to the gym or encourage your suitemates to join you in watching some workout videos. I have made it a priority to stay fit this year by adding an introductory yoga course into my schedule and even aiming to go to the gym at least three times a week. I want to ensure that my body will stay strong and reliable during the times I am spread too thin. We have to delegate time out of our hectic lives to relax and remain physically fit.

In the midst of the academic year, the weather, coupled with our workload, leaves many of us despondent and unfocused. We never seem to leave the labyrinths of the underground tunnels until 3 a.m. when the library closes. During such times, we need to search within ourselves for the self-confidence and internal strength to persevere. Fifteen minutes of meditation or even power naps can make an immense difference. We need to sleep earlier so that attending a 9 a.m. class isn’t an onerous chore. We need to assure that our bodies and minds can channel their energies to clearly focus and fulfill the tasks at hand. If we accrue good habits from the start, we can rely on them when we are struggling.

Most notably, I feel that we as undergraduates need to take the time to do what we love.

We should allocate personal time to take leisurely excursions and embrace what Rochester has to offer, from excellent coffee shops and delectable restaurants to scintillating displays of music and art. We should take the time to dance, sing, play an instrument, watch our favorite movies or just hang out. Being busy all the time would drive any human insane.

What I am proposing is certainly easier said than done. Many of us never quite practice what we preach. But I honestly do feel that if we have the self-motivation to maintain a peaceful equilibrium of work and play in our lives, we can truly initiate meaningful and rewarding lifestyle changes.

Venkateswaran is a member of the class of 2011.

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