8 Simple Pleasures in a Complex Time

 CW: This article mentions dissociation and some depressive tendencies.


Being a person during a pandemic is hard. We’ve all heard it a million times, but unfortunately, it’s the truth. A global virus presents its own unique challenges like isolation, limited physical contact, and feeling a little out of control (or maybe a lot). On top of those issues, we’re all college students. We spend these years finding our authentic selves, searching for the person you’re proud of being, while juggling overwhelming course work and jobs.


I tend to go into what I like to call ‘autopilot,’ formally known as dissociation. Everything gets to be a little too much, so it’s just easier to let a different part of your brain take control and get the work done. Short term, dissociation is pretty effective, but in the long term, it really sucks. 


I've spent some time making a list of pandemic-safe and budget-conscious activities that have helped me bring myself back and live in the present again. Maybe this can help you cope, too. Here are my top 8 simple pleasures.


  1. 1. Buy/Grow Plants

    Listen, these little dudes are so cute and create great energy in my room. I’ve also found that caring for my plants provides a sense of purpose, slowly reminding myself that I’m needed in the present to give life to my baby plants.

  2. 2. Go Thrift Shopping (with the proper safety precautions)

    Thrift shops are pretty inexpensive and have some great gems in there. When I go to thrift stores, it gives me a good chunk of time to focus on combing through the racks and treating myself to some cute shoes or sweaters. Doing something just for yourself feels really nice when you’ve been working so hard to keep afloat.

  3. 3. Visit an Outdoor Garden/Nature Area

    This one is a little hard during the winter months, but when it gets warmer, outdoor areas are fantastic spaces for reflection. The air, gorgeous wildlife, scenery, and calmness really give my mind a break. Also an option, you could collect some rocks or pinecones to display in your room, satisfying that overwhelming urge to collect shiny and cute things!

  4. 4. Gather Music Recommendations and Create a New Playlist

    When I’m stuck in autopilot mode I tend to lose interest in a lot of things that I really enjoy. Music is one of them. To reintroduce myself to one of my loves, I ask some friends or people I know for their favorite songs and put them all together. It’s a great way to remind yourself of all the supportive people in your life and helps switch up the monotonous routine you had going on before.

  5. 5. Make A Real Meal

    This one is pretty hard for me. Cooking is a daunting task when you’re dissociated because of how many factors you have to deal with and organize. So, I start slow and make it a goal to cook one full meal for myself a week. I’m talking appetizer, entree, and dessert, you deserve it! Choose some of your comfort foods so the cooking isn’t as scary and absolutely get lost in the sauce.

  6. 6. Chill for 10 Minutes Before Bed

    When you’re working nonstop, sleeping is almost a chore. I’ve found that giving myself at least ten minutes before I try to sleep to just sit and process the day helps me fall asleep faster and get more good sleep. This doesn’t have to be meditation and trying to shut your brain off (that’s almost impossible when you’re in survival mode) but just some time to let your head go off so it grows tired by the time you turn the lights off.

  7. 7. Your Favorite Clothes, Music, Dancing, Photos

    It is so important to document when you’re feeling good. Dissociation hits hard sometimes and you feel not great about what you look like, what you’re doing, and all of those concerns. Try and convince yourself to put on your best outfit, put on a banging playlist, dance (it’s even better if you dance with pets or someone special to you), and take cute photos! When you’re feeling bad, look back at those pictures and remind yourself that happiness is right around the corner.

  8. 8. One Exciting Plan

    Perhaps the most simple of all the options listed, plan one exciting thing for each day. This can be making/buying your favorite drink, watching an episode of that show you’ve put off watching because of work, play fifteen minutes of your favorite game (mine is animal crossing!), or anything that you can see yourself looking forward to. Wanting to get to that next day makes a big difference in your mindset.


We all have obligations that cannot be ignored. Everyone has their own ways of getting work done fast, and usually, those methods aren’t great for your physical or emotional health. Finding your own simple pleasures could help bring you back to the present and start experiencing life again.