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By Lindsey Greer

Every day life is crazy. As college students it’s full of classes, campus activities, part-time job’s or work study’s, homework, and a social life. Being a non-traditional student, you often have a household to maintain, a job, classes, homework, campus activities, a social life and maybe kids. There is a heavy load on the to-do list and only so many hours in the day. It’s easy to get frustrated and lose track of taking care of yourself. A major step is to find or create a balance.

              When we think of balance, we think of the textbook definition of even distribution, and looking at your to-do list you’re probably laughing now thinking, “how am I supposed to equally distribute my time with all of this?!” That’s just it, balance doesn’t have to be that. Balance is finding a way that works for you to juggle the “work”- school or actual work- and the personal. Sometimes it can be devoting more time here or a little more time there. It’s what you’re okay with and what makes you feel in balance. Like things are working for you to an extent where you can manage the stress and you’re not overwhelmed to the maximum level you can withstand. It’s about being able to find some peace in the crazy and that looks different for everyone.

              One thing you can do is to set boundaries. As a student, we can stay up some crazy hours to work on assignments. This isn’t exactly healthy. How about setting a boundary for your work time? Yes, a bedtime. Tell yourself that on weeknights you won’t work past say 1 AM at the latest. Set boundaries for yourself about going out. Having a social life is a good thing, but not when it’s creating a time crunch for assignments and creating last minute work. Create a method for how to study such as work for an hour take a twenty-five-minute break to break up your work and prevent burn out. When working a job as a student, set your availability to give time not only or your classes and homework, but also for time for yourself. You are a priority in finding balance too.

              That brings me to self-care. You will hear this everywhere and will for the rest of your life because you are important. A method of self-care that I have been focusing on is to find something that I love that I can make a daily or weekly ritual. It’s about finding something that makes you happy in a way that gives you peace and calms you. It can be simple. Living off campus in my own home, one of the things that I have begun to do is to light an aroma therapy scented candle when I can finally stop for the day. This ritual tells my brain that I’m done for the day and that I can relax and decompress. A weekly method I use is to light several candles in the bathroom as my light, then I either take a bath with salts or a bath bomb with calming music or use a shower bomb and stand under the water for a few minutes. Some people have daily walks, runs, or workout. Others set aside a specific amount of time to read for fun. Do something that makes you happy for you and it doesn’t have to cost anything.

              The last thing I think that is important to finding balance is to remind yourself that most things are not life or death. Our society is set to the mindset of everything has to be right now. With email and texting and social media and everything essentially being available at an instant we tend to get into the mindset that things must be done right now and that everything is life altering when it doesn’t have to be right now, and it isn’t always. This is what time management and prioritizing is for. Prioritize projects and assignments but remember to remind yourself that you managed tricky situations before or big assignments before, so you can this one too. That friend that keeps messaging you to go do this or go do that or asking you for this favor or that favor? You have every right to say no. You have every right to put yourself first. You do what you need to find your balance.

I am a Junior and non-traditional student at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, where I major in Social Work and a double minor in Sociology and Pre-Law. I'm a small-town farm girl who almost always has coffee or an energy drink in hand & I'm very passionate about the things I believe in! I intend to work in advocacy for Domestic Abuse/Violence, Sexual Assault, Mental Health, and Child Abuse with the goal of achieving better resources, better education, and better laws.
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