Weekend getaways: Do they cause or relieve stress?

May 19, 2017, 2:16 a.m.

“You’re doing homework on a Friday night?” a flight attendant asked, eyebrows raised in surprise and pity. My best friend and fellow Daily writer, Elise Most ’20, and I shook our heads and laughed as we worked on material for our dorm’s “Untalented Show” the following week. Last weekend, Elise accompanied me to my relatives’ house in Orange County. We flew out Friday evening and returned Sunday evening, a trip many students would consider much too short. The sad thing is that the flight attendant didn’t know we’d be doing homework for a good portion of both Saturday and Sunday.

Leaving campus for an extended time at any point during the quarter can help relieve and yet cause stress. The Stanford bubble encases sunshine, free thinking and anxiety. It’s easy to escape last-minute internship applications and final problem sets by booking a Zipcar for a few hours or taking the Caltrain up to San Francisco for the evening. From personal experience, planning flights for your weekend getaway can result in unnecessary panic attacks the day before departure.  (Tip: Make sure you buy tickets for the correct weekend, especially when you’re flying with another person.)  

After my aunt and uncle picked us up from the airport and drove us to dinner, I couldn’t help but remind myself how much work I had to do. Eating the best meal since spring break, I decided to enjoy my Friday night.  I put away my laptop and focused on catching up with my family until the early hours of the morning. With relaxing tunes in the background, we lounged on the L-shaped couch and talked about everything from former Vine star “BatDad” to plans for next summer. In those hours, I couldn’t remember a recent time when I’d been so relaxed. I had a full night’s sleep in a quiet house by the ocean.

Reality struck me hard when I woke up the next morning.  Between brunch at 10:30 a.m., my cousin’s baseball game at 1 p.m.,and a barbecue at 6 p.m., I wondered when there would be any time for homework. Luckily, Elise and I carved out two solid hours between the game and barbecue, but we both still had a ton to do. As my relatives’ friends started to arrive for dinner, they had the same reaction as the flight attendant. I think adults tend to forget how college and the working world aren’t the same. Once you’re home for the night, the work doesn’t stop.  

At the end of an evening filled with messy ice cream sandwiches and rambunctious kids, it was time to pump out the essays and problem sets due the next day. Much to the adults’ dismay, Elise and I forced ourselves upstairs to work. To be completely honest, I think working under the pressure of a tight deadline in an unfamiliar setting forced me to be more productive than usual.  On a Saturday night at 10 p.m., I’d never have the self-control to sit down and finish an assignment. Although I felt incredibly relieved when I submitted the essay before heading to the airport, all of the stress could’ve been avoided by doing one simple thing: finishing my work before the trip.   


Contact Emily Schmidt at egs1997 ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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