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University of Southern California
University of Southern California
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
USC Chan Division of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy
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Forget Fall Recess, this is a Fall Reset!


October 19, 2021

Living in LA

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Hello and howdy folks! Here at Chan, we are officially halfway through our semester and I think I could speak for most of my classmates and, dare I say, students everywhere that it’s time for a breather. From midterms to applying to graduate programs, or even just putting the pedal to the metal over the past eight weeks, now is a perfect time to renegotiate your time and reconnect with who you are in addition to being a student.

Before we dive in, I want to make something clear: the way you’re feeling, be it smelling the roses, being deep in the thorns, or somewhere in between, is valid. As rewarding as school is, it’s also hard work, and giving space for both of those things to coexist is important. It’s also easy to say that all of our stress is coming from school, but if I’ve learned anything about occupational therapy (and I sure hope I have!), it’s that we’re multifaceted people with unique roles, habits, and routines. Life does not go on pause because we’re enrolled in an academic program. My peers are parents and partners and more, oh my! No matter what those roles and routines are, I’m here to remind you that you are not alone. Check-in on each other, share support and resources, and sometimes make sure to give yourself a reset!

Here are some questions that I found valuable heading into, during, and after Fall Recess. I hope they can guide you through your reset too!

On the Horizon

  • How are you? This everyday question, the one most people respond to with “I’m fine” or “I’m good” can really pack a punch when you give yourself the space to reflect on an honest answer. If you feel that punch, it’s time for a reset. This question is also a perfect launchpad for the rest of these questions.
  • What is contributing to these feelings? and What do you need? Together, these questions are the first step to time management. Identifying our hierarchy of needs with our responsibilities can help address our stressors while also providing the opportunity to get back in touch with ourselves. Addressing what needs to happen paves the way for the wants. That may mean studying for the next midterm, but it may also mean sleeping in. It may even be a meal you didn’t prepare yourself or a skateboarding adventure around LA. Don’t be afraid to challenge your definition of “need” and explore what nourishes you because that is just as valuable to your well-being as being productive with your work.

Into the Thick of It

  • What is something that you’ve missed? Is there something you’ve put off or even forgotten that you’ve enjoyed because things kept piling up? That’s a reset moment. These are the sort of things you can return to time and time again. Maybe it’s the book that’s sat untouched on your nightstand for the past eight weeks. Or the embroidery project of Judy Garland that you only dedicate 12 minutes a week to between classes (Just me? Good to know). No matter what it is, find what brings you joy and make it happen! The world is your oyster, it’s time to look for your pearl.
  • When did you last have an enjoyable experience? What was it? What can you do to capture that feeling again? This is more of a one-and-done sort of moment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t go out and find it again. Sometimes the moments and experiences that are fleeting are all the more impressionable.

The Weeks Ahead

  • What will you take with you for the rest of the semester? Although it’s easier to have a reset moment when you’re given the time to do so, the little things go a long way too! Think about how you will integrate your reflections into your schedule (or just commit to spontaneity) and be the change.
  • What will you leave behind? Just as important as adding meaningful activities into your days is letting go of those that aren’t serving you as well anymore. There are only so many hours in the day so this time to explore reorganizing yours.
  • What have you learned? The questions above may be best answered by this one. Maybe your reset experience was much more abstract and you’re taking away lessons and reflections, or maybe you’re leaving behind an attitude or perspective.

How you go about your reset is up to you, but it may be helpful to journal, talk with someone, or just think to yourself. If I could leave you with anything, it’s that first and foremost, you’re a human being and it’s okay to reconnect with your humanity. Otherwise, if I see you in the halls, if you engage with Chan on social media, or if you want to comment below let me/us know how you’ve spent your Fall Recess, we’d love to hear about what brings you joy!