Improve quality of life by simplifying it

Some days, I go around feeling like my head is going to explode.

It’s as if I have hundreds of sponges squeezed into my cortex, each one soaked with some bit of information that weighs heavily on my mind until I get the task done.

Buy milk. Write column. Do laundry. Respond to emails. Practice piccolo. Oh right, attempt homework.

These to-do lists, along with all the other things that happen to us day to day, can make time go by in a fog.

What’s best is to take a step back and figure out how you can de-stress and enjoy life a little more.

The following is a list of my go-to brain relievers:

1. Put down your phone.

It doesn’t need to be checked every 30 seconds. If your man or lady crush hasn’t texted you back yet, stop aggravating your anxiety by constantly pressing the home button during class. Don’t immediately take out your phone when you feel like you don’t know what to do with yourself. Sit back and look around. Your screen-weary eyes will thank you.

2. Exercise outside.

Sure, it’s getting colder, but sometimes there’s nothing better than the satisfying crunch of leaves as you lope through Champaign-Urbana. Also, away from the crowded ARC and CRCE, you can truly get lost in your thoughts, feeling refreshed and satisfyingly sweaty at the end of your workout.

3. Don’t encourage the dramatics.

Unfortunately, not all of us left drama in high school, as some people have an innate need to stir up trouble, gossip and complaints. Ignore it, tune it out, whatever you need to do to keep unnecessary prattle from taking up valuable space in your brain.

4. Keep your daily Facebook and Twitter visits to a minimum.

I can barely keep track of my life, so it’s sure as heck difficult to keep tabs on everyone else’s. In that way, these social media outlets are helpful in keeping up-to-date with our friends’ lives, yet it can distract us from completing things we need to do.

5. Make time for good friends.

While social media suffices for some communication, nothing beats in-the-flesh chats. Many times, a good conversation with a good friend over coffee, dinner or wine is exactly what you need to refresh.

6. Relish those free moments.

Many students at the University pride themselves on their busy schedules and treat them as a contest. If you tell someone about your busy schedule, they will let you know how much busier they are. It gets to the point where we feel guilty if we have free time. Don’t feel this way. Relax and be thankful for those moments.

7. Stay organized.

Buy an I-Book, use Post-it notes or iCal, write to-do lists, whatever you need to keep your thoughts from escaping you. I keep it old school and scribble notes on my hand. Staying organized can help you prioritize, and there’s also a sense of accomplishment and relief in crossing items off your list.

8. Find something productive to do that also helps you relax.

For me, it’s cleaning. I’ll clean my room, my kitchen, the dishes — anything that can clear my mind while also being worth my time. Maybe for you, it’s walking your dog, baking or gardening. Most of these things you have to complete anyway, so it’s an added benefit if they help you relax.

9. Take a break from screens.

Many of us spend most of our days looking at screens, including cell phone, T.V., tablet, laptop and desktop screens. This strains our eyes and our minds, making it difficult to focus. So when you take a homework break, don’t go online shopping. Instead, pick up a book or go for a walk.

And 10. Breathe.

Remember that we tend to make mountains out of molehills. When I’m 80 years old, I’m sure I’ll look back at this time and wonder why I worried so much. You will too. So, breathe, take a step back, keep calm and carry on.

Kirsten is a junior in Media. She can be reached at [email protected]