If you thought the term “existential crisis” was only a familiar concept to theologians and teenagers named Holden Caulfield, you would be dead wrong.

In this day and age, more collegiate students find themselves questioning, “What the hell am I doing here?” or “What’s my purpose in life?” into the wee hours of the morning when they’ve got a twelve-page paper due the next day.

So, without further ado, here are my handy-dandy steps to conquering your existential crisis (and hopefully getting you some much-needed sleep):

Existential Crisis


1. Unpack your life.

What I mean is, you should attempt to take your life apart piece by piece.

If you come across some sort of aspect in your life you don’t like and you’re able to get rid of it, by all means get rid of it.

If it’s something that takes time to change (a bad professor, a struggling GPA), make note of it and move on.

Don’t dwell on the fact that your problems seem unfixable; it will only make you feel worse. Focus on what you can fix for the time being and worry about the other stuff later.

2. Form a path to a solution for the ostensibly unfixable problems.

Maybe you have to go to office hours. Maybe you have to spend more time in the library. Maybe you have to stop drinking on Tuesday nights.

By making some sort of proposed solution to your problems, they’ll feel more manageable and therefore easier to conquer. You will feel less overwhelmed each week if you begin to make small changes toward helping yourself.

3. From this point on, forget the past.

It’s just the future that matters because in the future you’ll be happier. I mean, anything is better than sitting at your computer past 4 a.m. on Tumblr, right?

Do not dwell on the past because you cannot change the past; focus on the future, the thing you can actually control and change.

4. Clean your room.

I am being completely serious. A tidy pad helps a person relax and concentrate, which I’m betting is something you need.

5. Do something that releases endorphins.

Hit the gym, eat some chocolate, whatever fits your fancy. Endorphins, if you’re not aware, produce a feeling of well-being in the body.

Who doesn’t want to feel at least a little bit happier when it seems like you’ve got the weight of the world on your shoulders?

6. Talk to someone about it.

A friend, a parent, even a therapist. It feels liberating to release all the negative crap in your head and even share your burden with other people.

And seriously, check out what therapy options are offered on your college campus. Most of the time, the first sessions are either discounted or totally free (and no, therapists are not just for crazy people).

7. Flow with the natural progression of the day.

If it’s daytime, turn on some lights or go outside if it’s a nice day. If it’s nighttime, go to sleep and turn off your TV and/or computer completely; blue light causes insomnia.

8. Breathe.

This is the most important step of all, so let’s pretend I put it first.

Remember, the darkest hour is just before dawn. Do what you need to do. Make yourself feel better. And seriously, get some sleep.

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