lifestyle, things i learned

writing || how to avoid stress and burnout in university

I still have a ways to go before I find my studying groove in university. Not only is there an impossible workload and so many aspects of life to balance, but my definition of “caught up” doesn’t lend itself well to the work I’ve been seeing in the past month. I really value the education I’m getting and it really helps that I find the material is immensely interesting. But there are so many places where I might optimize how I read, take notes, and absorb information. I also ought to optimize WHICH information I absorb.

This comes to mind because in an ideal world, I wouldn’t be either studying, eating, sleeping and spending time with friends. I want to make more time to workout and practice yoga, read for pleasure and explore my university town. I’ve noticed that despite the constant motion that is my lifestyle at university, the short bits of time I make to do those things have been like a miraculous breath of fresh air. They are so grounding for me.

And in times of desperation and stress, I need to find that electric source of energy and remember that the small bubble I’m living in with school and study is not all there is. There’s so much more out there, so many more ways for me to occupy my time and define myself, and so far I’ve discovered several things that are essential to helping me rediscover this state of mind. 

prioritize sleep and food

Some days I either don’t get enough sleep or skip a meal, but this only defers my need for sleep and food to a later time and isn’t productive in the long-term. It’s super important to make the time in the day to cater to the most basic needs. In particular, I’m unfortunately not one of those people that can get by on minimal amounts of sleep. Any less than my daily 8 and I cannot function properly, feel groggy, and most of all – am very susceptible to negative emotions.

exercise

This doesn’t have to be intense. In fact, if I’m tired or it’s cold outside, it’s sometimes better that it isn’t because my body has a hard time recovering. Going for an intentional walk down by the water or spending some time on my mat doing a yoga flow puts me in a great mindset for the rest of the day.

make your life more than just school

The more I venture out to clubs and events where I chat with upper years and master’s students, the more I encounter people who are pursuing their own interests outside of school. These are the kinds of people that have a unique spin to bring on whatever they learn in school and to every conversation they’re a part of. I think it’s infinitely valuable to follow the path that makes you different, because reading books or pursuing a hobby will be something you can tie what you learn back to and help you bring so much more value to what you’re studying.

social events

Building on top of my last point, social events are a great way to recenter. Most networking events leave me feeling inspired and full of ideas of things I want to do or think about, while also reminding me that studying is not everything.

talk to friends

Trusted friends can be one of the best people to talk to, because most often, they are going through the exact same things that you are. Comparing notes on the situation and sharing ways to deal with the stressors you’re both encountering can alleviate some of the loneliness that often comes with falling down the rabbit hole of your own emotions.

call your parents

My parents are my best friends, and I feel lucky that I can always count on them for the right wisdom to get me through whatever I’m struggling with.

put your campus life into perspective

Visit the real world. Checking out non-university events, cafes, restaurants and walking by residential areas is a really great way to remember where you come from and why you’re taking the route you’re taking through life. I’m writing this from the comfort of my heated bed at my parents’ home. I’m here for the Thanksgiving weekend and although I know I’ll be much more homesick when I get back to campus than when I left on Friday, it’s been so nice to know that some things will never change. I’ll always have home to come back to, and the mountains won’t move if I bomb a test.

The world moves on, and my happiness is entirely dependent on the attitude I approach it with.

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