With a new decade, year, and semester often comes hopes, dreams, and goals for the future. We write them down, make reminders, post about them, and the first few days go great. Then, reality hits and the classes we were so motivated for get a little boring or we find ourselves going to bed at 1:00am knowing we have an 8:00am. Suddenly, this semester looks just as stressful and sleep-deprived as the last one.
Often when the year starts going, obligations kick in and passions take a back seat. The “new year new me” wears off and sometimes all we can see in front of us are the due dates and an uncertain future. While the grind is good, we do not have to be a slave to it. There are always things you can do to give yourself a break and maybe help you feel a little less stuck. Here are just a few of them:
Get back to what you loved as a kid
It is all too easy to get lost in current obligations, majors, and classes that we forget what life looked like when it was simpler. Not only that, but what we did as kids often has a lot to do with our passions now. What did you do when you had time to do anything? I’ll bet if you liked to draw a lot as a kid, you might like to draw now. If there was a sport you played in high school or even a sport you quit before high school, chances are you would still have fun playing it now. Find a simple hobby that you love, and make time for it during the week!
Remember that having fun doesn't look the same for everyone
Like the extremely varied interests we had as kids, everyone’s idea of fun is different. It’s important to not get sucked into the idea that going out means having fun or hanging out with a large group of people means having fun. For some people, being surrounded by a ton of people or being able to get lost in a crowd is exactly what they need after a long week. But for others, going to Target alone (I mean when is Target not fun) or just spending time with a few friends can be just as fun. Decide what is fun for you and do that.
Make a list of what you like about this season of your life
We love to wish for the next thing -- for next summer, for a job search to be over, for a new apartment, but wishing the future was here takes away from the unique time that is now. We are often told “enjoy right now” or “you’re gonna miss this.” It is difficult to enjoy right now when right now just feels like that last place you want to be, but accepting where you are now can help you appreciate the good things about this season. For example, I’m a freshman and live in a dorm. Not exactly the ideal living situation, but I know next year I’ll miss being so close to the dining halls, the gym, and my friends. So for now, I will do my best to be thankful for where I am, despite living in a tiny space.
Actually put time for yourself in your schedule
Whether you write everything you need to do down or just keep it all in your head, make sure time for yourself is on that list. That could mean something fun, something that makes you feel more in control of your life, or something you have been meaning to do but haven’t quite found the time for yet. I’d suggest things such as organizing your closet (or any space that’s a mess), getting coffee with a friend (just a coffee date, not a study date), going for a drive, going for a run, really the possibilities are endless. Taking breaks and doing something that is not work for you will help improve your mentality and productivity.
I hear the recommendation to journal all of the time but I’m including it because I believe the hype and it has made such a difference in my life. You don’t have to be a writer to journal and you don’t have to start a specific way or meet a certain word quota. The beauty of journaling is there are no rules. You can write pages of paragraphs, use bullet points, use a “question a day” journal, even just write a sentence about how you’re feeling that day. Journaling helps to clear your mind, get emotions out, and even learn more about yourself. Sometimes when I do not feel my best and don’t know why, writing out what I am feeling or just what has happened that day helps me sort out why I am experiencing certain emotions.
Call the voice of reason in your life
We all have someone who just brings us down to earth, gives us a little perspective and makes us realize everything will be okay. Whoever that is in your life, I encourage you to reach out this week, especially if you haven’t talked to them in a while. Sometimes all it takes is calling someone to boost your mood, make you laugh, or just improve your day.
Whether this semester is shaping up to be your best yet or your most challenging yet, I hope you are able to use some of these tips to find inspiration in what can sometimes feel like a mundane routine.
By: Grace Farmelo