Finding Joy in the Small Things

The winter months can be great sources of stress for so many.

Holiday family gatherings aren’t always a joyous reunion, financial stressors are amplified with gift-giving obligations, and the dreadful sunset at 4:00 PM can have a major impact on one’s mental health. 

Especially during a challenging semester in a pandemic, there are so many factors that can contribute to negative mental and physical health. After having a somewhat lonely semester myself, I’m sure we could all use a little extra joy. Personally, I found that it didn’t take much to make me feel better.

What I found truly worked for me was trying my very hardest to start looking for joy in the smallest of things.

One small thing I took a particularly high amount of joy from was Free Coffee Wednesdays at Dunkin’! As a college student that is heavily reliant on caffeine, free coffee is beautiful music to my ears. An added layer of joy was the experience of going to get the coffee. Since I was living at PAR (which is about a 30-minute walk from Green St.), I was able to put on an episode of my favorite podcast and truly enjoy my walk through our beautiful campus. 

Even taking a walk that wasn’t coffee-centered brought me high levels of joy. When the mental fatigue set in after hours of Zoom meetings and classwork, a simple walk around to explore campus made me feel so much better. I really tried to set aside an hour every day for this purpose, which made me so excited and grateful that I was even able to be on campus at all this semester. 

Another source of joy for me was seeing various types of happy interactions. Whether it was watching squirrels chase each other on the quad, hearing laughter down the street, or coming across a dog on a walk, these small interactions can brighten your mood- even for just a moment. 

All in all, looking for joy in the small things has made me a much more positive and optimistic person.

When the stressors of life started to get me down, I had a few easily obtainable coping mechanisms that gave me the ability to unwind and remind myself of the good things that surrounded me. 



Class of 2024
I’m a social work major with a passion for people and the betterment of society. Listening to my friends share their experiences sparked my love for the University of Illinois, so I can’t wait to share my own with prospective and incoming students!

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