Balance 101 for college students

As a college student, there are some days when I put working out and healthy eating on the back burner. Instead of eating a balanced diet of fruits, veggies, and protein, I go straight for the comfort foods and caffeine. Instead of taking a break and going to the gym, I isolate myself in the library for hours at a time.

 On Friday afternoon, when my classes are over, instead of running on the treadmill, I curl up in bed for a Netflix marathon. When we get stressed about school, it is intuitive to work harder and neglect the less urgent routines in our lives like sleep, diet, and exercise. We often go into fight or flight mode, and begin to ignore our most basic needs.

I've discovered that while this outlook can be constructive in certain tasks, it can also be dangerous. When I don’t allow myself to take a break from what I am doing, I often end up being counterproductive. In some cases, I even get physically ill. It’s likely that the hectic nature of college life won’t slow down anytime soon.

 However, we can change our perspective and our habits about handling work and stressful situations. Here are some steps you can take towards creating a better balance between work and health.

 1) Schedule time for yourself

While, your planning out what you need to get done for each day, remember to lay out times for relaxing, eating, and sleeping. Take time aside each day to do something you enjoy, whether it be reading a book, dancing in your room, or enjoying warm tea with a close friend. Even if it’s only for 30 minutes, giving yourself a little time will not only relieve some of your stress, but it will likely make you more productive in other areas of your life.

 2) Don’t put too much on your plate

In college it’s easy to overbook ourselves with difficult classes and extra-curricular activities. Before adding that extra activity or class to your schedules ask yourself if it is really necessary and important. The less you have on your plate, the more time you will have to focus on the most essential tasks for your personal success and happiness.

 3) Get more sleep

Many students place their social life and school work ahead of sleep. However, according to Donna Arand,. PHD, clinical director of the Kettering Sleep Disorders Center in Dayton, Ohio, “a lack of sleep impairs your ability to learn, remember, and process new facts.” So the next time you’re tempted to pull an all-nighter, think about the negative effects it will have on your body. Shoot for at least eight hours of sleep each night.

 4) Allow yourself to be enough

 As college students, it’s easy to feel like we aren’t smart enough or accomplished enough compared to our peers. Remember that comparing yourself to others is a recipe for stress and burnout. Look at your own achievements and how far you’ve come. Be confident about your own ability and know when it’s time to call it quits on an assignment.

 I am by no means the queen of a balanced lifestyle. However, I have found that when I do take time for myself to exercise, eat right, and rest, I am actually more productive in my studies and significantly less stressed. I feel more in control of the situation and confident in my ability to tackle big tasks. Maintaining a balanced lifestyle is not something that happens over night, but there are choices we can make each day that will help us to start creating a more balanced life.

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