College is supposed to be the “best days of our lives.” While there are many fun events we will remember for a lifetime, like football tailgates, nights out in downtown Vermillion and extra-long study sessions due to too much time spent laughing with our friends, there are also not so fun times.
A 2009 survey done by the American College Health Association-National College Health Assessment found that 39 percent of college students will feel hopeless during the school year, 25 percent will feel so depressed they’ll find it hard to function, 47 percent will experience overwhelming anxiety, and 84 percent will feel overwhelmed by all they have to do.
Those feelings are not the first we usually talk about with our peers. As a resident assistant for two years, I have seen many students get themselves into cycles of constantly studying, participating in clubs, working and then being stressed out or struggling with mental health issues on top of it all.
When students get stuck in these cycles–myself included–it can be hard to find time to do the things that bring you joy and help balance out your life to relieve stress.
But here’s a little secret that I wish I had received a lot earlier. That homework assignment that you are stressed about is not going to impact your life in five years. Spending eight hours studying for a test instead of 10 isn’t going to make or break your whole career.
That being said, you don’t need to carve out a whole day to do fun things. It could be a couple hours a week. I’ve heard many of my friends and classmates say they miss reading for fun. When I sit down to read a book I sometimes feel like I need to finish it immediately, but I’ve changed that standard to just reading one chapter a week.
Having more realistic expectations on how much time needs to be spent on the actual to-do list and how much time needs to be spent on passion projects or enjoyable activities is crucial.
Doing activities that you truly enjoy is also important. One popular option is going out on the weekends to party with friends. While this is a fun option (that I also enjoy), it can be draining for many. Which is why it is important to identify separate activities you like to do that can help balance your life and workload.
It will also make you feel better to do what you truly enjoy doing, not what your friends enjoy. So identify something you love to do this week and take two hours to do it. I guarantee you it’ll make you feel more balanced and optimistic about your workload as you look towards a busy month preparing for finals.