Finding Peace Amongst the Chaos of College
by Maria White
We’ve all been there. You’ve been in class since 8 a.m., you’re exhausted, your neck is starting to cramp, you have fifteen emails to respond to, a to-do list as long as your leg, Kelly is texting you non-stop about her problems with Brad and you want it all to just STOP.
So, you put it all down. You drop your backpack, plop into bed and begin yet another long and magnificent Netflix binge. Well, friend, I’m here to tell you that there are other ways to survive.
Navigating school, work, and play can be exhausting and when it starts to become too much, we want nothing more than to abandon everything. To isolate ourselves from everything taxing and just be. Sometimes, however, life gets in the way and you’re just in too deep to let everything fall. Believe me, I’ve been there and nothing is worse than this feeling of defeat and failure.
Let me be the first to tell you: amongst the chaos of college, peace can be found. I’ve tried many a method: meditation, adult coloring books and all. In my experiences, I’ve discovered what I call my five-finger method to handling the stresses of college. When times get tough and the darkness gets a little closer to taking over, I stop, take a deep breath, and follow the following steps to help me get back on track and find a little peace.
Sit down with a notebook or planner, write a to-do list, and then re-write it. That’s right, make a completely new one. Shuffle around your dates, move certain assignments and tasks down a few days. Put what’s due first at the top of your list and work your way down. It’s okay to demote certain tasks and it’s okay to completely erase some. You are more important than any homework assignment or social event. Do you want to know the best part? Crumpling up that old to-do list and throwing it away.
2. Make time for what you love
While you’re creating your new to-do list, consider expanding your options as to the where, when, and how of each task. If you have to study, study somewhere beautiful. Take your homework to a new coffee shop you’ve been dying to try. Bring your books to the river and enjoy the view and fresh air. Ask your study group if they want to meet at your favorite restaurant this week instead of the library. These small steps will end up making a big difference in how you feel and will help you stay engaged and focused on your work. If you’re going to study all morning, leave time at night to craft, watch a movie or read a good book. Whatever you enjoy, make time for it! These are the things that make you you. Don’t abandon them. In fact, try to involve them! Bring your creativity into your class project or invite your co-workers to have a movie night with you. Merging your responsibilities with your “happy place” is easier than you think if you’re willing to think outside of the box.
I know, I know, exercise isn’t for everyone. But, as Elle Woods so eloquently said, “Exercise gives you endorphins, endorphins make you happy, happy people just don’t kill their husbands”. I am a firm believer that exercise is one of the absolute best ways to relieve stress and prolong your focus on long days. Exercise doesn’t need to be completely exhausting to be helpful either. I love yoga because it’s relaxing and reconnects you to your body, but I also love kickboxing because it makes me feel strong and empowered. There are so many ways to get yourself moving and I promise you will leave with a clear mind no matter what workout you choose. Look into local classes and give a few a try! Many clubs and private gyms offer free workouts your first time, so try a variety and see what makes you feel good. When your body feels good, your mind will begin to adjust too.
4. Be with your Girl Gang
Surrounding myself with a group of positive, encouraging women has been one of the best things to help me keep my chin up and my mind right. Find a group of empowering young women who have the same goals or values as you. Even better, start a group with a bunch of girls who may not be in your major, but share a common interest with you. Then, meet on a weekly or bi-weekly basis to be honest with each other and talk about what you’ve been struggling with. These girls will be there to comfort you in your lows and celebrate with you in your highs. There is nothing more rewarding than growing in relationships with other women and doing life together. Your Girl Gang will be there for you wherever, whenever and can be your backup and support system when that boy you like can’t.
5. Practice self-love
Self-love is the best love. Let yourself relax after a long day. Even better, reward yourself! Watch a few episodes on Netflix! Put on a face mask and pour yourself a glass of wine because YOU MADE IT! You did it! You kicked today’s butt and you deserve a cookie. Or four. Take a long nap and thank your body for keeping up with you, because you are Superwoman. Remind yourself that you are an incredible human being with a purpose. Your experiences today impact your character and you will leave college a better person than when you came. Rest and prepare and take these words to heart because you’ve come a far way, but still have a ways to go.
Let’s dare to find peace.
Maria White is a junior from Cincinnati, OH studying Secondary Education Language Arts and English. She was inspired to write for T+D in hopes of connecting with other strong college women and learning valuable lessons about female empowerment to one day pass onto her students.