As we know by now, being a college student in 2021 is far from easy. It's tough to stay on top of schoolwork, keep up with friends, and try to think about our futures. Even though I'm supposed to be enjoying the present day, it's hard not to reminisce and think about how much easier life used to be. Remember when we didn't have to think about paying tuition, doing calculus equations, or staring into our Zoom classes?
The joys of childhood are still in reach, though. Inside all of us is an inner child from many years ago, and that nostalgic feeling you get might be your inner child wanting to be let out. I think that channeling this inner child is a really important part of self-care. It helps you let go of modern-day anxieties, and remind yourself what it's like to be young and carefree.
Here are some things to do that can help relieve stress and improve your happiness when you need an escape.
1. Read something, just for fun.
In academia, we often have to read so many textbooks and essays that it can start to feel like reading is an absolute drag. But back when we were young, reading was an imaginative escape. When you need to take a break, find a book that you genuinely want to read and lose yourself to fiction like a little kid in a library.
The best part about reading for fun is it can be anything you want — yes, that includes re-reading Harry Potter and Percy Jackson! Reminding yourself how great literature can be and the satisfaction of finishing a book you loved is a great feeling.
2. Watch a favorite childhood movie.
In today's world of streaming, it's so easy to find all the movies you used to watch until the DVDs stopped working. Personally, when I need something to cheer me up, I'll put on a Pixar movie, especially "Monsters Inc". It's also so fun to have a movie night with friends where you all watch each other's favorite childhood movies. Pop some popcorn, and enjoy the fine cinema of "High School Musical" and Barbie movies!
3. Spend some time outside, just because.
Isn't it wild how much we were outside when we were little, no matter the weather? I have so many memories of playing in the rain, getting burnt in the sun, and sledding in the snow. Just a few weeks ago on a snowy evening on campus, I went out and played in the snow with my friends. It was so much fun, even when my hair froze.
Even if it's just taking a walk around your campus or neighborhood, something about it takes me back and puts a smile on my face.
4. Put on a nostalgic playlist.
Another great thing about today's internet is how we can listen to any music we want. I love the way music can take us back to a certain time or remind us of certain people. There are so many playlists made of the early 2000s, Disney songs, and other nostalgic music. Or, you can make your own playlist of childhood music, such as your own personal favorites or songs your parents loved.
5. Create something for yourself.
Something I've struggled with as I've gotten older is the expectation that everything we do is considered "good". When we were children, we were free to write, draw, and sing without expectations put upon us.
Give yourself some time to create these things again. It can be as simple as coloring in a coloring book or making up a corny dance to your favorite song. No one else needs to see it, so embrace the freedom and creativity of being yourself.