Whether you’re in high school, college, or graduate school, most students have to make sacrifices when it comes to school-life balance. Being a full-time student can make it difficult to find time for yourself and your hobbies, especially if you’re involved in many school activities and functions. While school is a major part of your life, letting the stress and time it takes consume you is extremely unhealthy—both physically and mentally. It’s necessary to make time for your own interests outside of school to maintain a happy, healthy state of mind as well as strong, supportive relationships. Here are some strategies that can be implemented into your life to help you make time for you.
The first (and most obvious) strategy for maintaining a healthy balance is to use time management skills to reduce confusion and stress when it comes to scheduling schoolwork and activities. To begin, it’s important to plan ahead so you have a clear idea of what needs to be done and when, which can lead to less stress as deadlines approach. Knowing how much time you need for your responsibilities will give you an idea of the time you have to focus on your interests. Create a to-do list each day to keep yourself on schedule as opposed to procrastinating on various projects and assignments, which can create more stress and less free time in the future. Whether it’s an assignment or your hobbies, be sure to communicate the details of your schedule with those around you so they know when to not disturb you.
While it’s crucial to prioritize your educational responsibilities, it’s also necessary to build time into your busy schedule for yourself. You can do this by breaking down large tasks into smaller, more manageable ones. This way, you can get things done on time without spending too much energy each day on one thing, freeing up time to do what you enjoy. Setting personal goals and deadlines for when you want to complete certain tasks is also helpful; it can keep you ahead of your actual assignment deadlines for school, giving you some time in your schedule to relax. You can motivate and reward yourself for completing certain tasks as well—try a relaxing bath, a movie, or another enjoyable activity.
When school becomes overwhelming, stress can take on various forms, including physical symptoms, anxiety, panic attacks, insomnia, depression, and dependency on substances to get you through the week. While low levels of stress can be helpful for focusing and getting things done, when it spreads into other areas of your life, it becomes necessary to engage in stress-relieving activities that can keep you calm and ease your mind. Some strategies that help relieve stress include regular physical exercise, meditation and breathing exercises, communicating with those around you, asking for help from loved ones, spending time outdoors, implementing positive daily rituals, and attempting to change your outlook on life. Sometimes, it can also be helpful to see a counselor or therapist when you develop mental or dependency symptoms to prevent harmful behaviors and encourage a positive well-being.
A healthy lifestyle
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle can also help create a beneficial school-life balance that isn’t overwhelming. As with stress relief, making time for regular exercise and healthy eating is a good way to create some time for yourself each day. Sit down for meals that are fulfilling as opposed to heating up frozen food to eat while studying. This is something easy that can be implemented to both nourish your body and maintain a healthy work-life balance. Make sure that when you’re doing things for yourself that you aren’t distracted by other activities. Reminding yourself of what you’re doing at that moment is important as opposed to worrying about distant assignments and deadlines. Additionally, try making regular weekly plans with your friends and family to do things outside of school and work so you’re not spending all your free time alone.
It’s also important to remember that you’re a human who needs time for yourself and that everything you do can’t be perfect. Aiming for perfection is an unrealistic and harmful standard that can set you back. As opposed to aiming for 100% every time, you need to set attainable goals that can be met without the sacrifice of your livelihood. There’s no penalty for turning down certain responsibilities, such as taking on more volunteer work, family commitments, or organization memberships that you don’t care about. If you already don’t have enough time for yourself each day, it’s unreasonable to adopt more responsibilities to worry about. If anything, it may be fitting to let go of some of your current responsibilities that aren’t fulfilling or enjoyable for you.
At the end of the day, you’re the most important thing in your life, and you need to make sure you're happy with your daily routines and practices. Maintaining a good lifestyle is beneficial to your mental and physical health as well as your relationships with those around you. Delegating time for both school and your interests is crucial to being happy as well as implementing relief strategies to manage existing stress. It’s not selfish to step down from any overwhelming commitments you may have. Go have fun and spend time with others! Even though you may not always feel as productive, you’re fostering a healthier state of mind and lifestyle for yourself, which should always come first.
Check out the “student health” tag for more helpful advice on balancing your responsibilities, maintaining your mental health, eating right, and more.