By Marissa Burr
Seven hours at a hotel cooking breakfast. Then five hours spent in the classroom and six hours on homework. And that’s just Tuesday.
That leaves only six hours left in the day to fit in three meals, extra curriculars, leisure activities, and a good night's sleep. According to scientists, I should just be spending that “extra” time sleeping in order to properly rest my body.
It’s not like I am choosing to overload my schedule, it’s just a repercussion of being in college. I have to work at least twenty hours a week in order to pay for tuition, rent, and other living expenses. I haven’t jam packed my course load either, as I’m only taking twelve credits. The problem is there just aren’t enough hours in the day to fit in everything I need to get done.
Unfortunately, because of this my health often gets pushed to the side. I’m lucky if I get four hours of sleep a night and can fit in a meal and a snack. Whole weekends are supposed to be the time that college students take to recuperate after a long week, most of us spend it like I do: ten hour shifts in order to make some extra money.
It’s not ideal, but we make it through. What I’ve found to be helpful is letting go of some of the stresses that you just can’t control when your days are so busy. It’s ok to be two minutes late to work, or class, or email a professor to ask for an extension on a paper. Nobody’s life is easy, so odds are if you explain your situation they’ll be pretty understanding.
It’s also alright to take a mental health day when you need one. If you work yourself into the ground your schoolwork will suffer, as will your job performance and physical health. Our bodies are not made to be going twenty hours every day non-stop.
But taking a break can be hard for some people. Overactive minds can run rampant during downtime, which is why some people keep so busy. Whenever I have a moment to sit down to rest, I spend the whole time thinking about what I should be doing instead. Laundry should be thrown in the washer, I could make the bed or get ahead and write the essay that’s due next week.
I’ve had to start being more mindful of my rest time so that I can get the full value out of it. Staying in the moment is so important, and no chore or assignment is so important that it can’t wait ten minutes so that your brain can have a break.
I’m not by any means an expert at this, obviously by the fact that I still fill my schedule to capacity on a daily basis, but I’m working on it. I’ve chosen to prioritize my mental health, even though it meant taking Wednesdays off every week in order to make sure I had enough energy to consistently go to my group therapy session, as well as my individual one. The workaholic in me wants to give my job my full availability up to the fifteen minutes it would take me to get back to campus in time for class, but it’s just not practical.
I need to prioritize myself first, or else I won’t be able to give everyone my best. My significant other cannot be taken for granted, so I need to make time to spend with him. The same thing goes for my friends and family. Those people matter to me and spending time with them is important.
If I could give any advice to someone struggling to balance their personal, work, and school life, it would be this: If you do not prioritize yourself, no one else will. Don’t be afraid, just do what’s best for you.