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How to Take Time for Self Reflection

During the summer before my first year of college, I asked my friend who had finished his freshman year at a university what the hardest aspect of the transition had been. He told me that he’d found it difficult to constantly be surrounded by people, to not be able to find a second to himself. He’d go to the dining hall and run into his friends; he’d head back to his dorm and have to engage in conversation with his roommate. He said it was hard to find a space to slow down and self-reflect.

During the hectic week, it’s easy to get carried away and forget to take a pause to check in with yourself. We often underestimate how important it is to take a break from the homework, the studying, and even the socializing. Here are some suggestions for how to press pause while on campus:

Meditate.

The idea of spending a few minutes in silence can seem trivial; you could be finishing your physics problem set or going to that volleyball game. But it’s just as valuable to dedicate some time to do absolutely nothing – to consciously sit down and decide to clear your head. To sit in silence and let all of your thoughts slowly simmer and fall to the back of your mind. Choose a spot on the grass or a random chair and let yourself relax, focusing on your breath. It’s an odd feeling, but it can be a nice midday refresher. Also, if you’d rather have more guidance, attend one of the many meditation sessions that Hamilton offers!

Write.

Get yourself a journal or a notebook that you can collect your thoughts in. Take just your journal with you – nothing else – and go outside. Don’t think, just put your pen to the page and let yourself rant, let your mind wander. Start talking about your class, about the conversation you just had, or the song that’s been stuck in your head all day. It’ll leave you with a clearer mind and a solid headspace to study, socialize, or just watch Netflix. My friend told me that she didn’t like writing until she started journaling – and now she writes every day – so don’t be intimidated because you’ve never been into writing.

Go outside. That’s it.

Leave all your belongings in your dorm and head out with no real plan and meander. Explore the corners of campus, especially if you’re a freshman. I did this the other day and ended up spending half an hour relaxing in a hammock. Not only was the view of the intramural field stunning, but it was overall one of the most serene, satisfying moments I’ve had on campus so far.

I hope this helps or motivates you to take a breather from the chaos that is college. Enjoy being surrounded by others, but make sure to find time to be by yourself!

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