By: Delaney Donnohue & Kristopher Paige
Let’s face it delegates, we are spending a lot of time on our technology devices in this special, virtual year at CONA. While it’s important to participate in debate, it’s equally important to take some time for yourself and away from your screen.
- Going For a Walk/Run- Get some Exercise!
This can include walking your pet, gathering some friends for a hike (while practicing social distancing guidelines), or taking a short stroll by yourself. This will give you some time to think and be in nature. Your body will thank you for the exercise, and because of endorphins, your mood will increase!
- Family Time
Spending quality time with loved ones is a surefire way to lift your mood. This can be taking a few minutes to eat lunch with your parents or sitting down for a full dinner, which is a good way to take your mind off of debate.. Family time builds confidence, gives you opportunities to cope with challenges you may be facing during the conference, and allows you to focus on building and maintaining emotional bonds that, in the long run, make life easier. Plus — considering the limited scope of how much we can do right now, opportunities for family time might be more frequent, for better or for worse, depending on how you look at it.
- Getting Enough Sleep
Sleep is scientifically proven to be an essential part of any healthy lifestyle, regardless of a pandemic. As common as it is for teens to stay up until ungodly hours, it is actually better for you to get a good night’s sleep. It’s recommended by the National Sleep Foundation (yes – that’s a real foundation) that teens get around 8-10 hours of sleep every night, going to sleep at roughly 10-11PM. This is because a lack of sleep can be detrimental to your health in various ways — sleep deprivation can limit your ability to concentrate, listen, and solve problems. Thus, making an effort to go to bed earlier every night, as much as you may not want to, is better for your health and subsequently your debating abilities.
- Reading/Watching a Movie
Finding different ways to entertain yourself is a relaxing way to step away from your phone or computer. This can be as little as reading for 20-30 minutes a day, or rewatching your favorite movie or a few episodes of your favorite show (also a great time to catch up on Avatar). This in turn will stimulate your brain and give you time for yourself.
This is a great way to connect and reflect with yourself. Focusing on your breathing can work to help clear your mind. Meditation is also found to help reduce stress, anxiety, and promote more self-awareness.
- Don’t Overload Yourself With Work
Too often in life we find ourselves bogged down in the logistics of everything; our mental capabilities are often hindered when we attempt to multitask to an overwhelming extent. Making conscious efforts to focus on only specific needs (one or two) at a time will lend you better results than if you make a foolhardy attempt at tackling 500 things at once. Take things slow, and focus on what is most important at the present moment — you’ll do great if you take things at your own pace, with a workload that you can handle.
- Cook or Make a Eureka Treat
One way to take a break from the screens is to create a masterpiece in the kitchen! Whether this is making dinner for your family, or getting some friends together to make delicious Eureka treats, this is a fun pastime that will take your mind off of debate and give you some quality time to yourself or with others.
- Practicing the 20-20-20 Rule
Looking at a digital screen for long amounts of time can hurt your eyes (ever been scrolling through Instagram at 2AM and your eyes feel weird? That’s eye-strain). One way to alleviate this is by looking away at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes, thus relaxing your eye muscles in small increments. This can be achieved by looking outside of your window, at a tree or a lamppost (It also might just be soothing to recontextualize yourself in the real world by seeing it, as opposed to only seeing zoom meetings for hours). Alternately, you can benefit from closing your eyes for 20 seconds every 20 minutes. There are actually apps that can help you follow this rule, like ProtectYourVision and eyeCare. Take care of your eyes!
- Changing Your Location/Scenery
Try to make where you work feel different from where you live, even if it’s in the same area. For example, change the room’s lighting once you’re done with debate or get rid of the coffee mug on your desk, so you can create a boundary between your work and living space. What might also be helpful is participating in CONA in a room other than your bedroom, or wherever you sleep.
By taking care of your body and your mind, you become better prepared to take on any challenge the day throws at you, at CONA and beyond. Self-care is also necessary to remind yourself and others that you and your needs are important too. Remembering any of the suggestions on this list in any stressful situations will do you wonders, no matter where you are.