My Saturday Chai

Inexplicable was the only word for it. During Fall of 2019 I hit the inevitable rough patch that every college student is doomed to undergo. Maybe this seems like a grim generalization to make, but college can be a stress-inducing atmosphere and oftentimes this leads to students feeling overwhelmed. And college in New York? Anxiety can reach new heights. 

I was even more prone to rough patches on arriving back to New York after three months at home and having to reacquaint myself not just with the city but with the specific kind of anxious feelings both New York and college itself could induce in me. I found myself having to work up more energy just to go to class and get my work done, but none of it was any more challenging than the previous year. The stress of living with a stranger was gone now too, as I was living with friends and we all got along well with each other. So why was I so anxious? 

There were moments in which my stomach would form a knot, my breathing would become shallow, and my heart would start racing. I knew I needed help and I was determined to discover the source of my anxiety. Having determined that classes – though still somewhat stressful –  were not the main cause, I looked to everything else in my life. Okay, maybe my living situation was still causing some anxiety. I loved that I was living with my friends, but I still had to get used to what that was like and didn’t want to step on any toes. More and more I also realized how much I still missed home, too. I was starting to like life in New York more so than the previous year, but it still did not provide the same comfort I could get at home. Even after realizing this though, I still felt there was something missing. These things definitely had an affect on me, but I knew they didn’t make up the whole of my anxious feelings. And yet, I couldn’t place it. It was inexplicable.

I could never pinpoint the remaining factor of my stress and anxiety was but I did everything in my power to work myself out of those feelings that had started to dominate my life. Part of that process involved seeing a therapist. If you have access to mental health resources through your university, it is completely worth it to take advantage of them! Sometimes tackling anxiety is a two-man job, and seeing a professional is always a good option. I also did a lot of exploring the city with my friends during this time which always gave me something to look forward to, but when I was feeling too tense to want to go out with them, I’d try to find a way to relieve stress on my own. 

My go-to was The Bean. The small coffee shop that, up until a few months ago, was on the corner of 12th Street and Broadway. It was not the only of its kind but certainly the closest to my dorm. The idea came to me as I was passing it on my walk back from classes one day. Immediately upon seeing its sign I remembered the iced chai that I loved from there and hadn’t had for months. Starting that weekend I began a tradition of waking up a little earlier on Saturdays and walking down to The Bean with a journal and headphones in my bag. After I ordered my drink I’d snag a table by the window, hit play on Spotify, and open my journal.

Unknown, “The Bean Broadway Nyc”, http://newyorkcliche.com/2018/04/11/the-bean-nyc-coffee-east-village/the-bean-broadway-nyc/. Accessed 10 Nov 2020.

Though I typically wasn’t one to journal frequently, I learned just how much of a relief it could bring me. Besides that, I was taking time for myself. The importance of this has only grown on me since then. When I took the time to journal, to let out some of what had been eating away at me throughout the week, I was able to get a moment of relief even if it only lasted for the day. Going to The Bean also functioned as an outing for me in which I could escape from my dorm (and therefore the homework that awaited me, ready to add on more stress). 

And the iced chai. I got it on each visit there and it was always a delight, a small but undoubtedly helpful way in which I could treat myself. Occasionally accompanied by a doughnut or maybe a muffin but perfectly sufficient by itself, my iced chai became the symbol of my personal time, as mundane a thing as it was. 

But chai and journaling is not for everyone. If you find yourself unsure of where to start with taking time for yourself or unsure of what will relax you, here are some helpful tips:

  • Hobbies – If you’re lucky, you are able to keep alive those hobbies from high school that you used to love so much. This was not the case for me, but anything you find enjoyable is undeniably a treat for yourself! If those hobbies have since died away, revive them. The joy they bring is worth the effort you may need to put in.
  • Sleep – It’s simple, but it’s necessary. The rest that comes from sleep has often made me feel just as restored as the journaling I would do at The Bean. Take the nap that you are reluctant to, go to bed earlier or sleep in a little longer. It will give you enough energy to do the work that needs to get done.
  • Fun – Going out on the weekends – whether it’s to museums, concerts, clubs, or something else – is another easy way to let your hair down. Though this was much easier pre- COVID-19, it still worth it if you can do so safely.
  • Food – Definitely my favorite way to treat myself. Comfort food, fancy restaurants, or something you’ve never tried before – take advantage of moments in which you are able to bring yourself a little more ease, even if it’s just by getting ice cream.

Lastly, I want to provide you with an amazing source for learning how to take time for yourself. Click here for more ideas on this from Lifehack. Whatever you choose, simply make sure it is making you happy and giving you even an ounce of relief. Because sometimes treating yourself can be as simple as drinking tea and journaling.


By: Anaïs Nuñez-Tovar

Anaïs is currently a Junior at New York University and is majoring in English with a minor in Creative Writing. Her goal for the future is to work in the publishing industry and write on the side. She loves to write and read poetry and fiction in her spare time.

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