What did you hope to get out of a spring break in the past? How can you apply those same desires to a unique present that we couldn’t have anticipated? 2020 taught us to throw expectations out the window. There are core pieces of living that rise to the surface of importance no matter where we are and what we are doing. Your 2021 spring break can be exceptional even amid a pandemic—all it takes is a little reframing.
Embrace Redefining Your 2021 Spring Break
2020 was a year of redefinition. As we faced a tumultuous ongoing world health crisis and an exhausted and tension-filled country, we re-defined what our day-to-day looked like. Work and school environments transferred to virtual settings, and computer screens became the primary substitute for offices and classrooms.
For many, holiday gatherings and traditions shifted. Rather than cooking a big meal and sharing it with loved ones around the dinner table, I was inspired by a friend to facilitate a “Christmas Drive-Thru,” where we spent the day exchanging edible goods through car windows with friends. Carefully wrapped buttery pastries and hot drinks passed between hands, along with the reminder that there can be connection in the same space as darkness. This is the power of reframing. By shifting the angle you are coming from, you can see a situation in a different light.
Many folks within my circles have been bummed to cancel exciting trips and explorations they had planned pre-COVID. Your 2021 spring break is no different. As your savored time-off of school approaches, it can be helpful to think back about what you had hoped to get out of your spring break in the past. How can you find those same objectives in a unique present? All of these desired outcomes can exist, even in a context that you didn’t anticipate being in. It’s all about your perspective.
An Opportunity to be Outward Focused
We’ve all been in periods where we feel like we are putting every ounce of our energy into keeping our head above water. Take this 2021 spring break as an opportunity to step away from the stresses of your daily routine and reground and recharge.
With extra space in your schedule to breathe comes the opportunity to shift your energy from being inward-focused to being outward-focused. Recognize a need in your community and meet it. Ask those in your immediate social circles how you can help, whether it’s through making dinner for your family or running an errand for a neighbor.
Many organizations are in need of volunteer work now more than ever. Use this resource to find a local group that is operating under COVID guidelines that inspires you, and get involved! Outward Bound’s founder Kurt Hahn believed in the power of service to weave you into the threads of your community and increase your awareness of the space you occupy. The well-being of your community is directly tied to your own, dedicate some time to pour energy outward.
Take A Trip… Locally
Although 2021 may not be the year for an immersive cross-country experience, travel and exploration can still happen locally. Trips are exciting, offering a break in routine and a chance to make new memories. On a neuroscience level, a big reason why travel experiences impact us so deeply is that our brains grow when we are exposed to new experiences. Placing ourselves in novel environments forces us to break patterns and engage with our surroundings in new ways. We form neural pathways as we receive fresh stimulation. And guess what? You don’t have to be in another state, or even another city, to experience the excitement of new neural stimulation.
As traveling continues to be limited due to COVID, consider ways you can explore spaces in your local area. Organize a neighborhood 5K or scavenger hunt, ride your bike to the grocery store, or look at your backyard through a lens of curiosity. Challenge yourself to find as many new experiences as you can, starting from your own home. Your brain will thank you.
Create New Memories
COVID may have shifted how we spend our time, but it hasn’t taken away our ability to create new memories. It just takes a little creativity! What is something you’re fascinated by and want to learn more about? Frame your 2021 spring break as an opportunity to explore a new idea or hobby and set the intention to learn. Jump into pie baking, master a TikTok dance, pick up watercoloring or mail homemade cards to loved ones—let your curiosity guide you to discover a new passion. For accountability and the joy of of sharing an experience together, invite a friend to (virtually) join you.
Explore ways you can get involved with groups that are operating under COVID-19 Health and Safety Operations, like a local volunteer organization or even an Outward Bound course! There ARE ways to find new experiences and safely make treasured memories. Do your research and make decisions guided by professional recommendations.
Welcome the Unknown
Often, we associate the unknown with fear—as humans, we crave knowledge. We want to know what is coming, so we can plan accordingly. I’m sure other Outward Bound Instructors across the states can attest to what is surely one of the most-asked questions by students on course – “What are we doing tomorrow?” As humans, we spend so much time attempting to grasp an idea of what the future will look like, but inevitably, plans will shift.
If there’s one thing we learned in 2020, it’s that there is much outside of our control. Recognizing what we are in control over can alleviate the stress that does not serve us and help us meet our present with a willingness to take on challenge. The unknown does not have to be met with fear but can be met instead with excitement and eagerness.
It is my hope that we can take this mindset into not only 2021’s spring break but into the rest of this year.
About the Author
Rachel Veale is an Instructor for the North Carolina Outward Bound School. With a degree in Electronic Media and Communication from Texas Tech University, Rachel thrives at the intersection of content creation and outdoor spaces. Her go-to road trip snack is black coffee and donut holes. When she isn’t on course, you can find her running down a trail in western NC or chasing golden hour with a camera in hand.
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