So, we’ve all felt it. We’ve all seen it. Seasonal depression, small space anxiety, school stress or whatever you want to call it. Bottom line, being a college student is hard. But we sometimes forget that it’s not just academics that make this whole process challenging. There’s your space, your environment, your social group, your everyday routine that can make some days feel like a living nightmare. Huge emphasis on “feel like”.
I realize that all of us are extremely lucky. We go to college. That speaks enough to our privilege. But, regardless, there are days or moments when everything feels like it’s two seconds away from imploding. You have 2 quizzes past due, a midterm you haven’t studied for, a 5 day old to-do list and laundry that no longer magically folds itself.
At moments like this it’s important to bring into a big picture perspective. Let’s start with your environment first. Most likely, you're trapped in a small dorm, bedroom, library or classroom all day, listening to the same professors, and staring at the same screen. You occasionally might go outside, but probably not. Your routine is mundane. You do the same things day by day with occasional (out of the ordinary) moments. You see your roommate, or housemates. It all feels quite repetitive.
So switch it up.
Easier said than done, I know. But, changing the smallest things in your routined life will create a habit of being productive outside of that routine. Do homework outside. Find an outdoor coffee shop that has seating, or on campus, or if you’re lucky enough, go to the pool. Creating a new backdrop for your everyday routine events will transform the task of doing them into something, maybe this is a stretch, to look forward to.
Next, refurbish your to-do list. I used to create the most extensive, hour by hour to-do list. While I’m aware that not everyone is as anal as me, taking a good look at how your to-do list, or planner makes you feel is important. If it makes you wanna shove your head down the toilet, that’s a clear indicator that something is wrong. If it overwhelms you or makes you feel defeated- maybe a sign to switch it up. While I’m not saying that to-do lists should be fun, they shouldn’t make you feel like everything is impossible.
The night before, create a list of the top 5 things you need to get done, preferably in order of most important. These don’t all need to be school related either. By creating this list, you are prioritizing what you need to do, and accomplishing the most important tasks first. Therefore, you will feel accomplished no matter if you only get around to checking off one or two items. Most likely though, you will find yourself checking off more as the day goes on, because the items on the list are getting (easier and easier). And you might even find yourself accomplishing other tasks outside of the list.
While I could go on and on about how to change around your routine, I’m gonna end with a simple fix, GET OUTSIDE MORE. I swear this is the most repeated sentence any mom has ever told their child, but, believe it or not, it’s TRUE! By taking time to physically leave the dark, closed in, all to a familiar environment, you're giving yourself a moment to think (outside of your school work and to-do list). Go on a run, walk around the neighborhood, watch the sunset, drive to a new city, try a new restaurant! Do something outside of your to-do list. Bring a friend, or go alone. But remove yourself from that familiar apartment, house or dorm.
With the school year just around the corner, we hope these tips will help you create a fresh, new and realistic routine that will help you accomplish your academic and personal goals. Best of luck with the school year!