Thinking back on the past year, how much of your free time was wasted because you spent it scrolling through social media? I’m sure the total for all of us would be alarming. Although it can sometimes be an entertaining mental break, it’s oftentimes makes us feel like we’re not good enough by forcing us to compare our lives to the highlights of everyone else’s. So instead of focusing on worrying about other people during our limited hours of free time, let’s focus on ourselves. Below are three ways to replace time spent on social media with time for self care.
Something that I hear many college students complain about is that they don’t have time to read for pleasure. And even if they do have a spare hour in their day, they’d rather take a break from class readings than pick up another book. But something that I’ve been doing in my own life recently is incorporating time for reading into activities that I’m already engaging in.
For example, take your book the the gym and read it while on the stationary bike or walking on the treadmill. You can also read while sitting in a long uber or taking public transportation, or even while eating a meal on your own.
Oftentimes while at the gym, going from point a to point b, or enjoying a meal – we take this time to check our phones. Instead, whip out your favorite book and mute your phone. Reading is both a better use of your brain power and a nice mental break from the stresses that focussing on social media can bring into our lives.
Mindfulness has been a buzzword floating around college campuses for years, but how do we find the time to put it into practice? The best way to incorporate a short yet effective meditation practice into your day is to do it in the morning. Many of us get in the habit of starting our day by checking all of the social media apps on our phones. Even when we have to go to class we may lay in bed for an extra 15 minutes mindlessly scrolling through images and videos.
A more productive and mentally healthy way to start your day is to meditate. Get up, find a quiet place either outdoors or in your living space while everyone is sleeping, and play your favorite meditation app or calming music through your headphones. By meditating in the morning, you start off the day in a centered and stress-free mindset.
While we always manage to make time for our phones during the day, it’s harder to find time for exercise. Yet working out releases endorphins and reduces stress while helping us feel healthy and strong. So here are some ways to incorporate this essential act of self care into our busy schedules.
If you have to go grocery shopping, run errands, or go to lunch with someone, you can bike there instead of ubering. And if you want to catch up with a friend, go on a long walk through Audubon instead of sitting somewhere on campus or in their room. Getting some fresh air from biking and walking burns calories, clears your head, and will put you in a better mood.
You can also exercise as a study break. If you are doing work in your room and already wearing leggings and a comfy top – simply lay down a yoga mat or towel and look up a 5 or 10 minute workout video on YouTube. This method is quick, easy, and an excellent way to de-stress instead of simply turning your attention away from your computer screens and towards your phone screen.
So, this year as your New Year’s Resolution, cherish each minute of your day and spend it wisely. Read, meditate, and exercise as much as you can. If you follow these tips, it may just be your least stressful and most productive semester yet.
Nicole Kaplan draws inspiration from her semester spent studying in Amsterdam. This recent graduate from Chicago loves laying in Audubon Park, reading a good book, and cooking her famous chicken fajitas.