How to wisely spend your summer free time

Mallory Pace, Government Reporter

For college students, summertime isn’t exactly what it used to be. When students are not occupied with studying or completing assignments, most have a part-time job outside of being a student. 

Spinnaker recently polled students on Instagram asking how they spend their free time, and most responses laughed at the idea of it. It’s true that sometimes it feels like there aren’t enough hours in the day.

But sometimes you might find yourself having a few hours before your shift, and although it might seem easier to kill an afternoon glued to a screen, there are far healthier options for how to spend extra time, even if you don’t have a lot of it. 

An overhead shot of a person on a laptop. The floor is an analog clock
(Kevin Ku/Unsplash)

Here are just a few free time alternatives to being on your phone: 

Read a new book

Students have been told that reading is crucially important and beneficial since they were taught how to do it, but it can be hard to find a place to start, especially if reading isn’t already part of your daily routine. Whether your book preference falls into a wide range of genres or none at all, there’s a book out there for you. Luckily, the world of reading offers dozens of genres that are sure to find their place somewhere among your interests.  

Fiction is typically a safe bet when trying to get into reading. Fiction books offer an escape into a world completely different than your own, where your mind and creativity are free to roam. The subgenres of fiction are endless: romance, sci-fi, historical, horror, dystopia, and adventure, just to name a few. Diving into a fictional world where things may be perfect or less than can be a great way to spend your afternoon while giving your mind a window of opportunity to expand, create, and relax. 

If you’re feeling particularly anxious or going through a hard time, there’s an entire genre of self-help books that might be able to show you how to cope with those feelings. Reading doesn’t have to be boring or something you have to get done for a class. It can take you to feelings of excitement, wonder and happiness. The best part is you don’t even have to get out of bed. 

Be outside

Another cautionary tale teens have been told all their lives is to spend more time outside, but shockingly there might be a reason for it. Scientific studies have found that exposure to sunlight can have positive effects on both physical and mental health. Studies have proven that sunlight targets special areas in the retina of your eyes that trigger the release of serotonin. Vice versa, decreased exposure to sunlight can cause a drop in serotonin levels, leaving you with feelings of sadness or depression.  

Two people bike
(Upadek Matmy/Unsplash)

Exposure to sunlight can not only boost your mood, but it also has positive physical effects on your body. Sunlight is an excellent organic source of Vitamin-D that is critical to bone health. Sun exposure is critical for health, but just like anything else, there is such a thing as too much of it, so sunscreen containing high SPF is a necessity this summer.  

The next time you find yourself feeling bored and stuck inside, take a step outside and soak in the rays for a few minutes. Your body will thank you.  

Get rid of clutter 

 A cluttered room can feel like a cluttered life. Getting rid of old and excess stuff invites new opportunities to change your space and start fresh. It can be hard to part with material items that you’ve always had, and getting rid of clutter does not mean getting rid of those items that will always be special to you. Still, you might surprise yourself with how many things you have that you know deep down you’ll never need again. 

That bin of old notebooks from high school classes that you think you might need one day? You don’t. Throw it away. That pile of t-shirts you haven’t worn in years, but what if you need a raggedy shirt for a DIY project that you might do one day? You won’t. Donate them. That shelf of books you bought forever ago that looked interesting at the time but now has collected dust and metaphorical spider webs? They’ll look better on a Goodwill shelf.  

Go through those miscellaneous items under your bed or hidden in your closet and reminisce on their memories, and then decide if it’s something you really need or if it could get better use in a donation box. A good rule of thumb when debating whether to throw something out or not lies in a few reflection questions: 

  • When was the last time I wore or used this item?
  • What sentimental feeling does this item bring me?
  • What feeling does this item bring me now?
  • Do I see myself using or wearing this item right now? Next week? Next year?
  • Will I feel regret if I throw or give away this item?

If you’re not confident in your answers or in your intention to use it soon, it might be in your best interest to say your goodbyes and part ways. C’est la vie. 

Go thrift shopping

This might sound a bit contradicting to the previous suggestion, but once you’ve finished decluttering your closet, where’s the harm in spicing things up… right? Thrift shopping is the perfect afternoon activity for a college student on a budget who wants to explore their limits on fashion or décor.  

A cup of tea, a candle, post its, and glasses sit on and around an open book

Adding new pieces to your bedroom walls or dresser can give your afternoon and your living space some fun, or trying to create outfits out of questionable pieces can give your wardrobe that perfect taste of individuality. There are dozens of thrift shops across the city of Jacksonville that contain another man’s treasure; you just might have to dig through another man’s trash. 

If you find yourself feeling bored and tired of your closet or bedroom, use those few hours before work to scavenge through your local thrift store, pick out a few cheap items and give yourself something to look forward to after your shift, it just might help the time go by faster.  

Free time looks different for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong with indulging in a bit of social media. We all do it. The most important part about free time is letting your body rest in whatever way it feels comfortable doing so. Just remember to give yourself a break sometimes.


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