By Andrea Rentel

Getting back into the swing of a new semester in the midst of winter is a challenge. Finding motivation to keep up with a university student’s schedule is difficult when most days are cold, cloudy, and gloomy. Energy can run low at times, and finding excitement in weekly routines can be tricky. While it’s normal to feel a lull in January, that doesn’t mean there isn’t anything we can do to make this time more enjoyable.

Every now and then, Toronto is graced with a rare warm and sunny day that serves as a welcome respite from the winter days of January. Feeling the warmth of the sun and enjoying a walk under the blue sky is rejuvenating. However, we can’t solely rely on the unpredictable weather to dictate how we feel. At Trinity, students find joy in the little things that bring them peace during the winter months of the second semester. Trinity students demonstrate agency in caring for their mental well-being by taking steps to maintain joy and fulfillment.

Physical activity is one of the most efficient and effective ways to feel more energized. It, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the United States, can improve brain health, including improved thinking and cognition paired with lower levels of anxiety and depression. At UofT, there are plenty of ways to get active and involved in sports and recreation.

Many students enjoy UofT’s gyms, including Tavie Johnson, who has been going to the gym to de-stress this semester. Many facilities are available to students for free if they have their T-Cards. The three main gyms on campus are Hart House’s gym, the Athletic Centre, and Goldring (right next to St. Hilda’s). Trinity also has its own private gym, the Trinity Gym, which is located in the basement of the Trinity College Building. Trinity students can obtain keys to use the space for workouts by visiting the Welcome Desk where they can book appointments beforehand.

Other ways to stay active include intramural and drop-in sports, registered program and instruction classes, group fitness workouts, and more. During the second semester, students have access to drop-in dodgeball, badminton, and ice skating, among other activities. Some students are also involved in varsity sports. Lilah, a first year at Trinity, is on the rowing team. The Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education also organizes barre, yoga, HIIT, and cardio dance workouts. Students can learn more about these offerings by visiting the UofT Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education website.

Many students may also find solace and gratification in music. Garyn Rickwood shares that she finds joy in “listening to 2000s R&B.” Similarly, Pratibha Thakur makes “walks to classes enjoyable by listening to music.” Studies have shown that music can have a significant impact on mood, healing, and emotional well-being. For example, upbeat music can evoke

feelings of optimism and gratitude while slower music can soothe the mind and relax the muscles. Thus, music can be a helpful tool for stress management and self-care.

The most powerful thing that brings students joy is spending time with their friends and family. Mariya Grynevych shares, “I get the most joy from people that surround me. Whenever I’m stressed or sad or have something to share, I call my parents and they always can make me feel better. Also, I love spending time with my friends in a non-academic way.” Social interaction and quality time with loved ones significantly reduces stress and gives students a sense of support in their community. Kashish Mittal shares that she spends time with her friends by “going out together on the weekends or having a movie night of sorts” at Trin and ordering take-out from a restaurant. Other students, such as Pratibha Thakur, also enjoy “quick 15-minute hangouts with friends during pockets of free time.” She shares that she loves “playing a couple of games of Cambio with [her friend] Candace every now and then – a game lasts just 2 minutes and it’s super fun.” At UofT, students can also participate in a variety of clubs, groups, organizations, and events to meet new people and make real connections. Students can learn more about these opportunities by visiting the Student Organization Portal on the University of Toronto website.

Students at Trinity also find small ways to take care of themselves as the new semester progresses. Acts of self-care can be as simple as “trying to end my day early so I can spend the last part of each evening relaxing” or “treating myself to something nice to eat after turning in major assignments or writing exams,” as shared by Pratibha Thakur. Mariya Grynevych similarly shares, “I love coffee, so I just have it first thing in the morning to have a good beginning to the day.” Mariya also makes an effort to notice subtle beauty around her: “I take pictures of the things that I find pretty – buildings and streets.”

There are many ways to nurture emotional and mental well-being at Trinity, including using UofT’s athletic facilities, getting engaged in student organizations, and spending quality time with friends. Students also engage in daily acts of self-care such as listening to music and treating themselves to coffee. The agency to find joy and peace at the start of a busy winter semester is in our own hands.