Many of us tend to neglect taking care of ourselves once we’re in the midst of balancing heavy school and work schedules. And don’t get me wrong, sometimes there’s no other option but to prioritize writing an essay until two in the morning. However, if we’ve learned anything from the difficult last two years we’ve endured, it’s that there’s more to life than just the usual wake up, study, eat, study, sleep routine many of us are accustomed to.
I strongly believe that life requires more balance than I’ve been giving it so far. For the most part, I never wanted to feel like I was falling behind compared to others around me. I felt like if I graduated in a certain time frame, I would be deemed successful in the eyes of others. But the truth is, the people whose approval I’m seeking don’t know me, don’t understand what I’m going through, and don’t care if I’m really happy or not. They only care about what they’re doing and probably if other people think they’re doing it right too.
This year, I decided to do four classes instead of five. I decided that I would make it a regular part of my weekly routine to spend time with the people I care about most. And if I don’t live up to my expectations, or finish everything according to my ideal timeline, I will learn to be okay with that.
And if you’re not exactly sure where to start with adding balance to your life, here are some good steps to start with…
Be realistic about your schedule
If you have a ton of stuff on your to-do schedule, make sure to organize it by priority and how much you typically can achieve per week/month. You can also try to think of your to-do list as suggestions for the most part, so that if you don’t get to one or two things by the end of the week, you know that it’s not that big of a deal. As long as you knock off some of those big tasks, that’s what matters most.
Prioritize socializing and at least one leisure activity
This can be tricky when you have a ton on your plate, but there are some options for blending tasks. For instance, you can go to a coffee shop to study with your friend, or if you’re really into yoga, you can encourage your pals to join you. It’s also okay if this is one thing you don’t always check off your list each week. But try to make it a rarity because you’d be surprised how much missing time with our loved ones, as well as time with ourselves, can impact our health and performance levels.
Make time for your health and self-care
There are many ways to do this, like scheduling 30 minutes of exercise daily (walking counts!). And, self-care can take many forms, ranging from face masks, reading your favourite book, cooking, etc. Many self-care activities can also count as leisure time.
Ask for help if you need it
If you’re struggling to find time for any of the above things, or to even have the energy to do anything more than just your top priority, then there’s no shame in exploring your options for resources. There are often more than you think at your university. There are academic advisors, mental health professionals, etc. Don’t be afraid to ask if they have extra options for you too.
These are great starting points for not only a more manageable schedule, but also to integrate moments that help you enjoy your life. I hope all of you can have both a productive and memorable year!