As the midterm papers pile up, your part-time job drains the last bit of your energy and your voicemail fills with endless messages from your mom, you may be feeling like you're in way over your head as a college student. However, finding a healthy balance between life, work and school is actually possible for you. It may take some time to find the right balance of each and a groove that works, but it's worth the effort.
According to the University Health Center at The University of Georgia, lack of sleep could lead you to feel more stressed out, resulting in a decreased academic performance and a higher chance of suffering from depression and anxiety. Getting at least 7 to 8 hours of sleep at night as frequently as possible is recommended. Three meals a day and some healthy snacks are also essential. It can help to carry trail mix, granola bars and dried fruit in your backpack. Exercise keeps your body fit and a fresh supply of oxygen going to your brain, even if it’s just briskly walking a longer route to class or running on the treadmill while studying your biology note cards.
You may be tempted to sign up for a large class load to finish your degree sooner, but your grades may suffer if you take on too much at once. This is especially important to consider if you’re also working. Schedule your classes so you have a slight break between class and work. Give yourself time to unwind, breathe and transition to the next part of your day. When choosing your courses, even it out so you take a more difficult class with some easier classes in a term, if possible.
Having a job while attending college is a reality for many college students. Working evenings and weekends may be the way to fit in a job. You could also work in the morning and attend afternoon, evening or weekend classes. However, because you have 15 credit hours on your college schedule, for instance, doesn’t mean that you can forget the extra study time or down time that you need to be academically successful. Avoid overbooking yourself and ease up a bit on your course load or work hours if you notice a drop in your grades or your health.
All work and no play is just no fun at all. Even if you just assign one or two nights a week to “Play time,” do it. You can go to a movie, buy tickets to a show, attend a party, go for a hike or visit your parents. The key is to do something just for the fun of it. It's necessary to release some of the stress of the week by finding something enjoyable to do to blow off some steam. You may be pleasantly surprised at how refreshed you feel after some innocent shenanigans with an old buddy or a nice belly laugh at a comedy club.
To keep everything on track and running as smoothly as possible, you can get a detailed planner and to write down your schedule. These handy devices will keep you from forgetting important assignments, work shifts, doctor appointments, grocery store runs or coffee dates with your friends. The planner should be small enough to be carried with you throughout the day. If the planner has extra space for “To-do” lists, that’s even better.
- University Health Center at University of Georgia: Sleep Rocks! ...Get More of It!
- National Institute of Health: Web-based Nutrition Education for College Students: Is it Feasible?
- Skidmore College: Why is Good Nutrition Especially Important for College Students?
- University of Wisconsin Milwaukee: Finding Balance: A Guide for UWM Students
- Volunteer State Community College: Work, School and Life Balance
- Scholarships.com: Balancing Work & College
- Polka Dot Images/Polka Dot/Getty Images