September 17, 2012 | | Leave a comment Whatever your reasons for going to college, honestly speaking, it can quickly devolve into a pretty self-centered exercise. Demanding college courses can make it seem like you don’t have time for anything that doesn’t involve readings, papers, exams, or lectures. If you’re not careful, you can become so preoccupied with your studies and your career that you forget about what really matters. To get yourself re-aligned with your better nature, you don’t need to quit school and move to an underdeveloped country. Luckily, the things that matter-like family, friends, and service-can fit, with a little tweaking, into your busy schedule. Best of all are the mental, physical, and emotional benefits that come from taking the time for the really important stuff. Here are our five tips to get you started: 1. Know when to take a break. The typical college student’s schedule is filled with a never-ending list of to-do’s. When you’re done with this week’s reading assignments, it’s time to start worrying about next week’s group project and the term paper the week after that. It can take over your schedule-if you let it. Because you could realistically exhaust all of your waking hours on school work, you need to know when to tell yourself it’s time to grab some time with family or friends. If you’ve been studying for four hours, and your buddy texts you about going out for pizza, accept the invitation and get the kind of social interaction that massages the mind and builds memories that will stay with you long after you’ve forgotten that Advanced Chemistry course. 2. Be spontaneous. Some of the best opportunities come when you least expect them. Perhaps, it’s that girl who just dropped her papers all over the sidewalk in front of you. Maybe it’s your roommate who you just found crying because her boyfriend dumped her. Or perhaps it’s the homeless guy you just passed on your way to the library. Every day is full of these split-second opportunities, which can come and go in an instant if you let them. Interestingly, these same opportunities can become those things you’re proud of later or the foundation for great friendships. While you’re busy building your future, make a great present by staying on the lookout for these opportunities. You won’t regret it. 3. Join a club. If you’re looking for a more structured way to do meaningful things, many clubs will bring service opportunities right to you. Although some clubs are made to enjoy a certain hobby, a large number of clubs specialize in doing service at homeless shelters, at schools in underprivileged areas, or even in the third world. If you’re the kind of person that normally wouldn’t do this sort of thing on your own, then this is the perfect way to get constant reminders and opportunities. These types of service also come with some bonuses: you can gain invaluable skills and experience for the ol’ resume, and, come hiring time, employers look very favorably on volunteer service. 4. Schedule it in. If you are the kind of person that is constantly locked into your planner or calendar, then you might consider actually setting apart a block of time every day or week to look after your relationships and your other needs as a human being. One or two hours a week may be all you need to get re-aligned with your better self. 5. Visit home. Let’s face it: college is not the real world. There aren’t very many older people, there aren’t any children, and most people haven’t known each other for more than three years. While it is an awesomely unique part of life, it can also mess with your mind in terms of what really matters. That’s why it’s wise to take a break and go back to the real world every now and then, just to remind yourself. Assuming you have a (semi-) favorable home situation to go home to, going home can provide you with some much-needed perspective: where you came from, the kind of person you wanted be when you grew up, and what long-term relationships look like. All of these can be virtual chicken soup for the soul to power you up for the rest of your term or semester. So what do you do to re-align with what matters in the midst of all that college craziness? Tell us in the comments below!