I'll be the one to say it: This is the worst time of the year. Between exams, projects, and interview prep, my weeks are busy with things I'd really rather not be doing, the weather is cold and rainy, and spring break seems forever away.
With all these responsibilities, it's comforting to think of a simpler time: a time when going to school was exciting, when going to the grocery store was an adventure, and when every stranger was a new friend.
Here are some tips to try to bring back that sense of wonder into your everyday life.
Live by a Routine
In college, finding a routine is hard - your day-to-day might be completely different on different days of the week, with unexpected demands (like a homework assignment taking twice as long as you planned for), impromptu plans (like your friends texting you about getting lunch in the next 45 minutes), or spontaneous changes of plan (like deciding to skip class to go to the library).
With all of these moving pieces, it can be hard to commit to doing anything at the same time every day. However, if you're feeling stressed, that just might be the most useful thing you can do.
Setting a rough schedule so that you wake up, go to the gym, eat meals, and go to bed at approximately the same time each day will make you feel more energized, by allowing your body's natural circadian rhythms to work with you, instead of against you.
However, just like when you were five, if you're feeling really cranky, anxious, or drowsy in the middle of the day, it might be time for a snack and a nap: and listening to your body's cues will help you make sure you're getting everything you need to succeed.
Look for Role Models
One of the best ways to learn about new things is to follow the lead of someone who's doing them already. As a kid, this might mean your mom, teacher, or older sister - they're so much smarter and more grown-up than you, and you want to be just like them.
In college, it's easy to feel like you're alone - that nobody is dealing with the same things as you and that you have no one to go to for advice. Those feelings couldn't be further from the truth, and there's no need to go it alone.
Finding someone who's on the same path as you, be it a professor whose class you really enjoyed, a classmate a few years ahead of you, or a coworker in your field, can give you advice about how to make choices in school and beyond, and can help you remember what all your hard work is going towards.
Find Fun in Everyday Tasks
One of the worst parts about growing up is that the things you used to have tons of fun doing, have become repetitive and boring. Once, things as mundane as the bus ride to school were just new opportunities to have fun - now, it can feel like even the things you don't have to do are just another item in a long list of responsibilities.
To make your life more exciting, come up with ways to make your responsibilities seem more like games: like this app that grows a plant to track how much water you drink every day, this workout app that lets you run from hungry zombies during your daily workout, or this chore tracker that gives you points for completing activities. Pretty soon, things you do every day can feel less like boring obligations, and more like fun challenges for yourself.
Invest in Friendships
When you're going through a really stressful time in life, spending time with your friends can seem like the last thing you should be doing. But really, the stressful times are when your friendships are most important - because your friends can help you stay motivated and upbeat when nothing else will.
When you were a kid, you had to schedule play dates so that you could hang out with your best buds. If you're having a hard time fitting everything into your schedule, try scheduling a get-together with your friends now - whether you're just grabbing coffee, working out together, or forming a study group, making sure you still see your friends is incredibly important when the rest of your life is really tough.
Do the Things You Love
One of the best things about being a kid is that you're not so stuck on social expectations as adults are - you can wear totally mismatched clothes, speak your mind, imagine what it's like to be someone else, and be friends with whoever you want.
While it might not be the best idea to walk into a job interview wearing a tutu, one of the best things about adult life is being able to make your own choices - and embracing some irreverence for the rules might make those choices seem a lot more appealing.
What do you think?
What advice might your younger self give to college students? Do you follow any of these tips in your life? Let us know in the comments below!