Team AXO

Winding Down

By Natalie Zepeda (Delta Pi, University of Tennessee, Knoxville)

2020. Strangely enough, those four numbers strung together hold a lot of emotion and energy. While the past year has been nothing short of “out of the ordinary,” there is one thing I am sure we have all experienced…living nonstop. One would think that stay-at-home orders, quarantine and this pandemic would have given us a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be still and to live quietly, but that could not be further from the truth. In true human spirit, we have seen and experienced more of an influx of passion, emotion, work and labor than ever before. The work and projects that have come out of the past year have been truly inspiring and have lit a fire that I hope we never see dwindle.

But now looking back on 2020, I can only think about all of the rest, relaxation and real-life comfort we all deserve moving forward! I have been thinking about what winding down means, and I think it looks a bit different for everyone. For some of us, it means working on a side hustle now between school terms or before work picks up in the new year; for others it can be taking time to chill in bed to watch a bad Netflix original (I said what I said, Netflix!!). For me, winding down looks like all of the above…but if you are still trying to come down to Earth after such a hectic year, I have a few ideas for how you can really wind down the mind, body and soul.

First things first, let’s get educated…and by that I mean let’s read a good book! Now, we can really take the time to read that book we impulse ordered on Amazon during one of our many study breaks. I am notorious for ordering a million books just to never finish them, but in the new year, I am hoping to cozy up on the couch and knock a few out. Maybe you want to read about personal finance, explore artisanal breadmaking or dive into that new Twilight book (#teamJacob). Whatever you are into, feed your mind and dive into a good book. This winter I am setting a goal to finish Think Like a Monk by Jay Shetty, How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie and a few others. If you are wanting to stay connected, try starting a causal book club with your sisters!

When you are done reading a few chapters of your favorite book, take a mindful moment to make yourself something hot and yummy for your tummy! After a day of learning, working out and eating well, I like to treat myself to something easy and sweet. My favorite evening wind-down is enjoying a hot, frothy, chocolatey cup of Abuelita’s hot chocolate with a toasted bolia or Mexican French bread. Enjoying that hot combo on a snowy winter night fills me with warmth and makes my body so happy! This hot drink fills me with nostalgia and reminds me of being young and spending time with my mom and Grandma Zoila on a cold Washington night.

Speaking of filling up a cup, this is a great time to fill yours! This past year has been a rollercoaster for most of us, but here we are at the start of 2021, and it is time to feed our souls some happiness. You have so much to pat yourself on the back for. You made it through the year, and you were a leader for yourself, for your sisters, for your friends and for your community. You made some people smile, and you made others laugh. You survived online school and navigated this new way of life. You did all of that and more! It is time to celebrate all of the little things that made 2020 worth it. One of my favorite things to do is to hear about what makes people proud…and sister, you should be proud! Take a moment to yourself and think back to the beginning of 2020. Think about the wins and the obstacles you faced. If you want, you can even keep a cup on your desk and write all of these thoughts down to literally see your cup of success filling up. Have a mental check-in to appreciate your full cup and know that the future is full of little moments of success and happiness!

Some other ways to wind down are:

  • Cozying up with your furry friends
  • Jamming out to some nice, chill music (Joji is a personal fave of mine)
  • Doing a skincare routine
  • Practicing being creative by painting, drawing or crafting

These are some ways I will be winding down over this month, and I can’t wait! Whatever you do, know that your mind, body and soul deserve to wind down and appreciate all of the good in life. Do you have a routine that you’re looking forward to doing to feel relaxed? Let me know in the comments below what you do to wind down!