Tips for balancing academic and personal endeavors

Midterm week may be over, but finals are just around the corner. Between attending classes, meeting deadlines and studying for tests, all while still making time to hang out with friends, students can sometimes stretch themselves a little too thin when trying to strike a good balance between their academic and personal lives. Here are a few tips to help.

1. Plan out a study routine

Class schedules can look different depending on the day of the week, and sleep patterns can also vary as a student might wake up early for an 8:15 class one morning and sleep in the next morning when their first class is later in the afternoon. Planning out a routine is one of the most important parts of managing your time effectively. No person is the same, and no routine is, either. Find what works best for you by scheduling study blocks at times in the day when you usually have the most energy and focus. Carving out specific times of the day to do homework can help avoid procrastination, and according to Rachel Goldman, psychologist and clinical assistant professor at NYU School of Medicine,  having a regular routine can help manage stress  and improve mental health.

2. Have you tried the Pomodoro Technique?

You have finally found the perfect spot in the library, opened your computer and laid out all your study materials. You are  ready for a long and productive study session … after you scroll through Instagram for 10 minutes. “Just 10 minutes,” you promise yourself, “and then I’ll get to work.” But 10 minutes turns into 15, then 20, and before you know it, half an hour has passed and you still have not worked on a single assignment. Sadly, this happens all the time. That is where the Pomodoro Technique comes in. This technique involves 25 minutes of focused productivity with a five-minute break, then a longer break of 15 minutes after four sessions. Other versions of the Pomodoro have 50-minute work sessions paired with 10-minute breaks. Next time you sit down for a long study session, try looking up “Pomodoro study with me” on YouTube. You might be surprised by what you can accomplish when you’re on the clock.

3. Get some rest

For young adults between the ages of 18 to 25, the recommended amount of sleep is seven to nine hours a night, but statistics show that more than half of college students  get much less on average. According to John Hopkins Medicine,  sleep deprivation brings numerous negative consequences including brain fog, inability to cope with stress, symptoms of depression and a lowered immune system. We all know people who seem to function just fine on only four hours of sleep a night, but they are racking up a substantial sleep debt, which can lead to all the symptoms listed above. Even if you don’t feel tired, according to the National Sleep Foundation,  it is possible to adapt to chronic sleep restriction. So even if you don’t notice it, your body is already feeling the consequences.

4. Make time for friends and family

Socially isolating yourself is one of the main indicators of burnout, and having strong relationships benefits both mental and physical health. According to Kendra Cherry, a psychosocial rehabilitation specialist,  social disconnection can be just as harmful as obesity, physical inactivity and smoking up to 15 cigarettes a day. Making time to hang out with friends can give you something to look forward to as you push through the demands of a busy week, and spending time with the people who care about you is a great way to destress.

5. Set boundaries 

While making time for friends is an essential part of maintaining healthy relationships, it is also important to make sure that you are exercising boundaries. If you find yourself struggling to get homework done due to the demands of your social life, it may be time to scale back.

6. Get outside

Since spring is finally here and the weather is getting warm again, now is the perfect opportunity to spend time outdoors. According to a study by the American Psychological Association, exposure to nature has a long list of benefits, including lower stress, better mood and even cognitive effects such as improved attention and memory. Whether it’s doing homework on the Academic Lawn or having a picnic with friends at a park, getting some fresh air and sunshine is always a good idea.

Perez is a feature reporter for the Liberty Champion

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