Stress Less: 7 Strategies for study life balance

How to Balance School and Work and Social Life

Balancing school, work, and life can feel like a juggling act where all the moving pieces are only a few moments away from crashing to the ground. Especially during finals season, it can feel impossible to fulfill all of your responsibilities, never mind have a social life or cultivate your relationships with others.

With more and more students working long hours in addition to their college studies, most students struggle with balancing school, work, and other commitments. But it doesn’t have to be as overwhelming as it seems. Here are some strategies for staying on track:

  • Make time for yourself. Even though it might feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day to accomplish everything that you need to get done, it’s still important to take the time to fulfill your basic needs, including getting a full night’s worth of sleep, eating healthy and regular meals, and taking breaks to spend time on activities that aren’t related to school. While it might seem like these activities only take time away from more important tasks, in reality they provide a necessary break to ensure that you’re in the best shape – both physically and mentally.
  • Check in with friends. Especially when you feel overwhelmed, it’s a good idea to check in with friends and remind yourself of the world outside of work and school. While it might be tempting to let relationships slide when you’re busy, making time for friends and family will provide valuable perspective, as well as a built-in support team to cheer you on! Consider suggesting shared activities that fit into your busy schedule, like study dates or eating together.
  • Set reasonable academic goals. While it might be tempting to take every class, join every extracurricular activity, and complete every extra credit project, setting reasonable goals is one of the best ways to reduce stress and make sure that your workload is manageable.
  • Consider cutting back on work hours. Mental Health America recommends that full-time students work an average of 10-15 hours a week in order to leave time to devote to their studies. During especially busy academic times, it might be advisable to work even less. While this isn’t always possible depending on your financial situation, it’s a good goal to aim for to ensure a healthy work-life balance.
  • Relieve stress. While it might be tempting to turn to coping mechanisms like alcohol or other drugs to deal with stress, there are some surprisingly simple stress-relief mechanisms that can help you manage a hectic schedule. Deep breathing techniques can have a powerful effect on stress, helping to calm both the body and mind. Exercise is another proven method of stress-reduction. Even though it might feel like you don’t have time, focusing on stress relief for at least a few minutes a day can have lasting positive effects.
  • Ask for help. If you find yourself overwhelmed by your commitments, it doesn’t mean that you’re doing anything wrong. Reach out to bosses, professors, and school administrators to work together to find solutions that work for you. Many professors can be flexible with due dates and deadlines, and can make special exceptions depending on your individual circumstances. Most colleges also have centers dedicated to health and wellness, and can help you come up with plans to manage your responsibilities.
  • Keep calm and carry on. While it might feel like it’s going to last forever, this busy period of your life is only a stepping stone on the way to bigger and better opportunities. With a little perseverance, all your hard work is sure to pay off!
  • Sources: Harvard Medical School, The American Institute of Stress, Mental Health America