Since coming to college, “free time” has become an outdated and unused phrase in my daily dialogue. What even is this phenomenon, “free time?” College students are, unfortunately, so constantly consumed by academic, extracurricular, and work-related responsibilities that any free time becomes scarce.
And this is why we students must make free time.
Without some time set aside for clearing the mind, relaxing, and forgetting about scholarly stresses, you’re bound to drive yourself crazy. This is dangerous in many ways—it threatens your physical health, your mental health, and even your academic performance.
It can be hard when the pressure of passing a test or finishing a research paper weighs down on you, but sometimes the best thing to do amid study sessions, long shifts at work, and club meetings is to take a much-needed (and much-deserved!) break. Now that I’ve learned how to force myself to take breaks, while still working hard and accomplishing everything I need to get done, I find myself much happier overall!
Mixing up your break-time activities is wise—falling into too much of a routine can become trite. I like to spread out my free time between my friends and family, my hobbies, and general relaxation.
Friends and Family
When you’re so wrapped up in schoolwork, it can be easy to forget to tend to your relationships! But passing up time to spend with your friends and family could cost you these precious connections. Set aside 15 minutes to give your parents or grandparents a call—it means more to them than you may realize. And when it comes to friends, spread your time out evenly between everyone important to you—or risk losing all but one or two friends. I, for example, always want to make spend time with both my roommate, who has been one of my best friends for several years, and the new friends I’ve made through my theatre group this year. Coffee dates and lunch dates are great go-to hang outs—I did this just last weekend with a good friend from high school who goes to school at a college neighboring mine. You’ll be glad to kick back and have fun with friends every once in a while. Going out gets your mind off school and creates lasting memories to look back on later.
Your free time doesn’t necessarily have to be unproductive—as long as it’s stress-free productivity! I am really passionate about sewing and knitting, so I often set some time aside to tap into my inner designer and get crafty. I plan on starting up my own Etsy shop this summer to sell my handmade clothing, so in my free time, I work on projects that I can sell later (or keep for myself in my own wardrobe!). Doing this gives me a sense of accomplishment, without stressing me out. It’s a hobby I enjoy doing, but there’s a convenient simultaneous payoff every time I make something. This principle can be applied to any hobby you enjoy, be it painting, reading, or playing an instrument. In the end, you’ll feel like you’ve achieved something, but you’ll be having fun in the process.
Nothing can quite compare to an hour (or a few hours, or even an entire lazy Sunday…) spent snuggled in bed. Whether you’re snacking, listening to music, watching Netflix, or just lying in pajamas in a mindless, meditative state, you’re letting your mind take a much-needed breather. When you’re giving yourself a break like this, try not to let your mind wander and think about due dates, projects, and homework—the point of this free time is to forget about all of those temporarily.
If lounging around isn’t your style, get outside and take a relaxed walk around campus or around town. Going to school in Boston, I love walking around the Boston Common, a huge park with a pond and several trails to follow aimlessly.