March 8, 2021

BERNSTEIN | For These Upcoming Wellness Days, Try Something New

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It’s a simple message, but an old and important one. And as we begin our middle-of-the-week weekend — a phenomenon really only relevant to our current moment in time — we celebrate the theme of “wellness.” What better way is there to work on our own wellness but by trying something new?

At Cornell, we often find ourselves stuck in the same ruts: promising to catch up on work, having the same worries, falling into the same habits and finishing the weekend in the same place we started. With the pressures of classes, jobs and extracurriculars, it can be difficult to try new things.

This is especially true now. Because of the pandemic, it feels harder than ever to meet new people, make new connections, or do things outside your comfort zone — or, at the very least, outside of what we’re used to.

However, these two days in the middle of the week are an opportunity; they give the ever so valuable gift of time.

I’m not going to tell you not to spend any parts of these days catching up on old work or doing whatever you’ve been putting off for a couple weeks. I’ll certainly be doing that at some point or another, and I can’t criticize you if you do the same. But I also know that work won’t be the only part, nor the defining part of your wellness days. There will undoubtedly be fun nights with close friends, maybe with drinks or games or whatever else you employ to entertain yourselves. This is good and necessary.

But I recommend that in addition to (or even in supplement of) your regularly scheduled activities, you do something you’ve never done before. Or, at least, something different. Break the barrier of trying new things that can often feel so rigid, especially during a pandemic.

In fact, take a second to think about the last time you did something that doesn’t fit into your normal routine. Have you eaten a certain kind of food that you wouldn’t usually? Have you visited any new places or hung out with anybody you didn’t know before? Have you picked up any new hobbies? 

I know for me, it’s been hard to remember the last time I tried anything new. I feel like I never leave my house or see people other than my closest circles. I miss the excitement of meeting new people face-to-face and I miss the thrill of spontaneous adventure. It won’t be perfect, but given the increased freedom these next two days, I’ll try to recreate some of those feelings.

I’m going rock climbing. One of my friends and I have been talking about doing it for a little while now. It’s something that I did a couple of times when I was a kid at camp, but as a college student, it still feels new.

Perhaps for you it’s also an activity like that — maybe you will go hiking or skiing or bird watching. But the new activity you take up could also be as simple as watching a movie you wouldn’t otherwise consider watching. Or driving to a park or local place to which you’ve never been. Or seeing a friend who you haven’t spoken to in a while. It doesn’t have to be brand new, either. The idea is just to change up your routine.

I think shaking things up during free time is an important part of caring for our own wellness. A little change can help you get out of a rut you might otherwise be stuck in, break out of bad habits and have you quicker on your feet. A study from Harvard Health shows that picking up new activities can help your thinking skills. A new experience can also help with overcoming fears and embracing creativity. There are real, proven benefits that come along with trying something new.

There’s something to relish about embracing uncertainty. I don’t mean a scary uncertainty either, or really anything daunting for that matter. The simple question of, “Will I like rock climbing?” is uncertain, and I’m excited to find out the answer. I like to think, though, that with the right attitude, whether I enjoy the act of climbing or not won’t matter — I’m already anticipating the refreshing, long-lost feeling of trying something new, and I know that that will be good enough.

Get your work done if you have to and spend time with your friends if that’s what you’re used to. But branch out and try something new, too. It will help your wellness on these wellness days.

Daniel Bernstein is a sophomore in the College of Arts and Sciences. He can be reached at [email protected]. Feel the Bern runs every other Monday this semester.