Advice Column: Learning how to feel relaxed in your free time  

Dear Miss Informed,   

These past few weeks have been very busy for me. I have reached a point where I finally have some free time. Instead of feeling relaxed, I feel guilty that I’m not working as much. What can I do to feel better?  


Soul Sister 

Dear Soul Sister,  

I absolutely understand this! You spend all your time on work, school, friends and everything else in your busy life, and when you finally get a moment to rest and enjoy yourself, somehow it feels like you’re forgetting something. It is overwhelming that this is the only free time you have so you feel like you shouldn’t waste it. Then your hobbies start to feel like work, too.  

Guilt is a hard thing to throw off, especially when the stress it causes starts to impact your body and mind. So, before you even try to consider what to do with all this free time, the first thing you should do is breathe. Try breathing in for four seconds, holding it for four seconds and breathing out for eight seconds. This serves as a good reminder to slow your heart rate and calm your body before jumping into something new.  

Getting some exercise and fresh air will also feel refreshing after you’ve been busy for a long time. I know I tend to put off going to the gym when I’m busy, because I tell myself I’ll get caught up later when I don’t have so much to do. Now is later! Go for a walk, set up a hike with some friends or try some gardening. It always surprises me how much I calm down after exercising and soaking in some sunshine. Remembering how nice that feels now also means you’ll be more likely to set aside time for it when the grind starts back up again.  

Now here’s a hard one — try turning off social media for a while. This is going to feel like a problem if you get most of your entertainment from social media, but don’t worry, that’s pretty much everybody in this day and age. When you’re sitting and scrolling all the time, you just see other people’s lives and how much better or worse they’re doing than you, which doesn’t help you relax.  

Apps like Instagram have deactivation options where you can turn it off until you’re ready to get on again. I know it sounds difficult, but it’s a lot easier than you’d think. After you hold yourself back for a couple days, you’ll likely find that you don’t really want to log in that much. Remember, your ex will still be there when you return, and who knows? Maybe a break from your feed will make it easier to move on.  

All that being said, the most important thing to remember is this time is yours, and there’s no right or wrong way to spend it. Give yourself grace for the things you miss, or the things you don’t have time to do. Maybe there’s an art project you’ve been wanting to get to for a while, and somehow the thought of it feels like work. That’s okay! Anything you get done is a step in the right direction, and anything you don’t get done is still time spent doing and thinking about something other than your everyday stressors.  

In your free time, you don’t have to be good at anything, so do whatever you have the energy to do. In other words, carpe diem, or carpe don’t. It’s up to you! 

Your friend,  

Miss Informed   

Editor’s note: Students can submit questions to Miss Informed via The Scribe’s email address, [email protected]  

Graphic by Lexi Petri.