By Elizabeth Valenti, PhD
Faculty, College of Humanities and Social Sciences
“Happiness is not a matter of intensity but of balance, order, rhythm and harmony.” (Thomas Merton)
The desire to prosper and experience positive well-being is the primary reason most embark on their educational and occupational journeys; yet, many have never mastered the art of life balance.
Research consistently shows that those who are overworked and heavily enmeshed with their jobs or schooling (otherwise deemed “unbalanced”) are more likely to experience symptoms of stress and burnout, suffer more health issues and experience more social problems.
Unfortunately, I’ve been there. Considering the constant bombardment of technology, academic tasks and myriad of life events, finding balance is a skill that must be mastered. Heck, I’m still learning to master it!
Here is a set of practical recommendations to set you up for success:
Begin scheduling all of your important tasks and activities so they will not only be remembered, but also prioritized. Planning eliminates any guess work and allows us to schedule other activities/events around important deadlines (e.g. tests, papers). It also keeps us organized in terms of studying and creates some “downtown” planning. I prefer the “month at a glance” planner, which provides a comprehensive visual glance of that month.
Let’s face it: We’re constantly bombarded with distractions.
While mindless activities can be beneficial, how much time are you really wasting? Begin by tracking everything you do in a typical day to assess time leakages. Unless it’s being used to produce, take steps to decrease some of your distractions like Facebook and other forms of social media.
It’s also helpful to rethink errands so time is not wasted driving around. I’ve found that dedicating just a few minutes each day to designing my day has been quite helpful.
Learning to eliminate energy-sapping activities (and people) is a must. Ask yourself, “Does endlessly surfing Facebook or binge-watching the ‘Real Housewives of Beverly Hills’ really add value to my life?”
If not, chop it – well, at least some of it.
Learn How to Say No
Learning how to say “no” is extremely difficult for those who are used to pleasing others. I’ve found that being honest about one’s limits can really circumvent some of this stress. Begin communicating how important of a priority school is, which means study time and rest cannot be sacrificed. Those who love and care about you will respect this goal and support your journey.
Easier said than done? Maybe, but try it. While change can be uncomfortable, it definitely produces results.
To conclude, I’ve had several life regrets, none of them being time spent on important goals. I have, however, regretted spreading myself too thinly and sacrificing my well-being and health.
Now let’s prioritize THAT!
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