How to find joy and peace in your daily life

A student sits outside at night reading a book.

Between the stress of school, work and life in general, finding time for a bit of joy in each day can be hard for any college student. Every day feels more draining than the last and it can be hard to even get dressed to go to class sometimes, much less enjoy the things we find comfort and peace in. However, for just an hour or two each day, there are ways to bring joy back into the daily routine, without messing up your schedule too much.

While it can be easy to get caught up in homework each night, taking an hour to step away can improve mental health and decrease the risk of burnout. A great way to do this can be to put down the homework and studying for an hour or so and take that time to make dinner. Even if you aren’t a great cook, using this hour to completely disconnect from schoolwork and focus on traveling to get dinner can be a great way to refresh your brain. When eating dinner, take this time to put on a YouTube video or your favorite show, or even scroll through TikTok, and focus on that rather than your assignments. You may find your stress levels decrease even slightly.

Though it may sound cheesy, try to get outside for a bit each day. Spring finally seems to have settled into Massachusetts, so make the most of those bright days and go get some fresh air. If you have time in between classes, take a walk around the Harbor Walk surrounding UMass Boston! The closest stretch of the Harbor Walk encompasses all of campus, starting at the Integrated Sciences Complex and ending near Harbor Point Apartments. Jump on the path wherever your classes let outwhether that’s the ISC, University Hall, or the Campus Centerand get some exercise and some fresh air. This is a great time to catch up on a podcast or listen to music, and as a bonus, many people who live in the surrounding apartments will come walk their dogs on the Harbor Walk, so you may get to see some adorable pets!

If you don’t have the time for a walk, or simply cannot do so, take the nice weather as a chance to get some Vitamin D. Lay out a blanket, grab some friends, or just get some alone time and head out to some green-space around the city, including on campus. Sitting outside can help restore some of the lost Vitamin D over the course of the winter, as well as help find a bit of the nostalgic childhood feelings of being outside.

While this may not be something that can be done as a part of a daily routine, bake something sweet for yourself or your loved ones! Much like the cooking process, baking is a great way to center your focus for a period of time and get a great product in exchange. Even if you aren’t a pastry chef in training, boxed brownies and cake mixes often taste just as delicious and are easy enough for the most beginner of bakers. As a bonus, baking is a great project to do with friends, so invite a few people over and make an event of making a cake, brownies, cookies or cupcakes and enjoy your treats afterwards.

If you aren’t a baker, try watching a movie or reading a book for a bit of time each week, and if you can, each day. While reading a book is ideal, especially on paper, reading isn’t everyone’s favorite thing to do, so find what storytelling method makes you happy and seek it out for a bit of time. A typical movie has a run time of no more than two hours, which is the perfect amount of time to step away from work and allow your brain to get a bit of a break. A few episodes of a television series can mirror this as well, for those who prefer binging a series over watching a singular movie.

Lastly, if you need a quick break, put on some music and have a dance party! Getting up and moving around can release endorphins, which will help make you feel a bit more joyful afterwards. While it may feel silly right now, after the dance party you may feel a lot better. If dancing isn’t of interest to you, going to the gym is a good substitute to create this feeling.

However you find a bit of joy and peace in life, make sure you make time for it a little bit each day. Without this, you may find yourself getting burnt out much faster and lose stamina for not only schoolwork, but basic daily tasks as well. Take care of yourself, and if your only way to find peace today is to take a nap or get a cup of coffee, take it and make the most of it.

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