This past semester has been difficult for the Elon University community, the nation and the world as a whole — there is no denying that. 

Over the past few months, our country has endured multiple mass fatalities, suffered through natural disasters, watched as numerous high-profile individuals have been accused of sexual misconduct and, here on our own campus, we have felt the loss of a fellow student. Considering all of these events, the last few weeks of this semester have left many of us dragging our feet. We have all been run down, and now facing finals and the end of the semester, the sheer exhaustion and feeling that tragedies are inevitable is even more prominent. 

It is OK to feel sad, tired or overwhelmed after this semester. You aren’t alone in feeling that way. But in the wake of these difficult times, it is important to take time to care for ourselves and also consider what we can do to rid ourselves of feelings of helplessness. 

Following finals, we have three weeks away from campus. Whether you are going back to your hometown, traveling with family or celebrating the holidays, this is a time you can use for reflection, planning and taking action. 

Take the time you need to care for yourself in whatever way works for you. Unplug from social media and the news for a bit. Spend time with friends and family. Treat yourself to a nice meal or gift you want. Relax.

Then, care for others. It is cliché, but the one thing our nation could really use right now is love. Throughout the holiday season and winter break, spread love as much as you can. Tell your family and friends how much they mean to you. Smile at strangers as you pass them on the street. Give gifts of service to communities that need it. 

There is so much in this world that we cannot control. We cannot change the paths of hurricanes or pass legislation on gun control ourselves, but we can control how we act and react. We can respond to these tragedies with helplessness, anger, sadness or fear, or we can react with love. It may seem small, but acts of love and kindness can go so far, especially in times that feel bleak. Do what you can to support yourself and others this season. We may not be able to do much, but a little love can go a long way.