Many students—myself included—find it tremendously difficult to balance academic success with personal fulfillment. As an undergraduate student steamrolling toward graduate school, I have found it increasingly challenging to manage both my academic life and personal life. If I apply more attention or effort to one, then the other is lacking. Rest assured: This is completely normal, especially when starting your academic journey as a student studying communications sciences and disorders (CSD), but maintaining an enjoyable and balanced lifestyle is key to succeeding as a student and clinician. You need to—and deserve to—find balance! Here are a few things that work for me:
Schedule a Weekly Rest Day
My biggest tip is to schedule rest! Slot in specific appointments with yourself that differentiate between time dedicated to school from time dedicated to relaxation. For example, I designate Saturday as my time to recharge mentally and rest by brain and body. On that day, I do not complete any schoolwork unless it is absolutely necessary. This day might be completely different for you! The important part is that you find a day and time that works for YOU and your mental health.
According to psychologists at UW Medicine, “allowing yourself downtime with minimal stimuli helps replenish your brain’s capacity for attention, focus, and creativity.” Angela Theisen, a psychotherapist and licensed clinical social worker for the Mayo Clinic Health System, explains that planned mental health days are an efficient way to “refocus and recharge the brain and body.” She cites in a recent Mayo Clinic blog a few specific benefits of planning and taking a rest day. The benefits include:
- reduced feelings of burnout
- improved morale
- improved resiliency
- increased productivity
Make Time for the Things You Enjoy
As students, we tend to revolve our lives around academics; however, we won’t be students forever. Don’t neglect hobbies that make you happy! For me, I love going to the gym—it’s one of my favorite things to do outside of work and school—but at one point, I stopped going for weeks, and I felt it.
When we don’t fulfill our personal needs and don’t engage in activities that we enjoy—for the sheer sake of enjoyment alone—we can find ourselves in this type of “funk.” We start feeling “off” and overwhelmed. Participating in activities and hobbies that you enjoy is so important in maintaining a healthy balance between school life and personal life. Now, I regularly prioritize time at the gym, designate a day to go, and spend as much time there as I can. Once I started doing that as part of my fixed schedule, my mindset was so much more positive and energized. I had allowed myself the space and time to do something I enjoy—and to do it consistently.