By MS. ARYN KITCHELL, Staff Writer
It’s back to school time but not only for children; college classes are starting, too! Get ready for syllabi, new professors, and plenty of assignments. The start of another school year is exciting and full of potential, but it can also be stressful. Balancing classes, work, and personal time can add to the stress. School isn’t just about the time you spend in the classroom—you also have to dedicate time at home to focus on assignments and studying. Have these tips in mind during the school year to keep yourself afloat.
First things first.
HOW MUCH SHOULD STUDENTS WORK DURING SCHOOL?
School administrators recommend working 10-15 hours per week. Working part-time isn’t always an option for some students, particularly those of us who live off campus and have families to take care of and bills to pay. So plan your school schedule around your job hours or utilize online classes. If you are employed full-time, try being a part-time student to see how that balance works for you.
When I first started college, I was also starting a new full-time job in the evenings. My adviser told me that it was not a good idea to juggle the two, especially when I was just starting. I thought I had the perfect schedule arranged, but I was going to school at 8 a.m. and working until 11 p.m. It was extremely difficult for me to manage full-time school and work, and my grades suffered for it that semester. After that, I reevaluated what I could do to make ends meet and still get my degree.
TRY TO GET PLENTY OF EXERCISE
This may sound like I’m adding just another task to your already too-hectic day, but exercise is good for your heart and keeps your body healthy. Schedule time to work out at the gym in town, at school, or at home. It’s all too easy to skip the gym if you tell yourself you can’t fit it into your day. Once it’s on your schedule, stick with it. I use classes to my advantage when it comes to exercise. Since my classes are in different buildings that are far away from each other, I like to use that time to walk. I also take the stairs whenever I can.
Sometimes I get out of bed later than I should, so I don’t have time for breakfast. Then, because I woke up late and I’m rushing from class to class, I eat chips out of a vending machine instead of getting an actual lunch. Once I’m home, I feel so hungry that I eat the first thing I can get my hands on—also usually unhealthy. This type of eating does not help my school day. When we are hungry, it’s hard to focus on class. Then when we eat unhealthy foods, our bodies don’t get nutrition.
Skipping meals leads to a lack of energy, so eat a good breakfast every morning. Having breakfast gets your day off on the right foot. Try to eat something nutritious at each meal; veggies and fruits are great to fill up on and still feel good. Take time to pack yourself a lunch so the vending machine doesn’t tempt you. Drink plenty of water throughout the day by keeping a water bottle with you that you can fill as needed.
Most students struggle with sleep. Assignments have due dates, so it may seem like the perfect plan to stay up and finish a paper. If you’ve been active at school and work all day, it can be especially hard to calm yourself down in the evening and get a full night’s rest. Most people need 7-9 hours of sleep each night, and it is essential for keeping you attentive and active. Without it, you have to work that much harder to concentrate on school. So don’t pull all-nighters, give yourself plenty of time to fall asleep, and try to put the screens away at bedtime.
I used to go to bed way too late and then struggle to wake up in the morning. After so little sleep, it was hard to go to my classes and actually learn anything. I decided to change my sleeping habits by giving myself a bedtime (yes, a bedtime!). I try to stick to that as well as I can.
TAKE TIME TO RELAX
Relaxation is important for your mental health. You should take time every day to relax, since unwinding before bed can help you sleep better. Reduce your anxiety by watching a good movie, listening to music, or reading a book. Whatever you enjoy doing, just make sure you give yourself time to destress from the day. It may seem like a waste of time to relax instead of studying or doing assignments, but it’s important to set those things aside occasionally.
DEAL WITH STRESS APPROPRIATELY
You’re going to feel stressed sometimes, and that’s okay, but it’s important to deal with it in healthy ways. Talk to friends or family. Go outside to enjoy the sunshine or the night sky and take a walk. Put down the books and take a shower. Do something to take care of yourself away from whatever is stressing you.
When I’m having a busy day and I feel overwhelmed, I give myself time for a guilt-free nap. I put everything aside and set my alarm. When I wake up, I usually feel much better about the day. Then I get back to whatever was stressing me out before, but it’s no longer stressful.
In summary, college can be tough but so rewarding! As Nelson Mandela once said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”