Written by Stephen Hale-Worrall
Being a conscientious student takes a lot of work. Heck, just getting through a university course takes a lot of work! Give yourself a pat on the back.
When trying to balance the demands of your course, as well as the other areas of your life, it can be easy to neglect important areas like our physical and mental health. That is unless you have a strategy or some “go-to” measures you can call on.
Throughout my journey at Charles Sturt, there has been many ups and downs including things outside of my control. Personal matters arise, COVID lockdowns and restrictions disrupted my flow big time, and then sometimes I was just finding it hard to stay motivated.
To help me succeed on my journey I learnt some handy tricks that kept me as healthy as I could be, as well as motivated and happy as much as possible. Keep reading to find out how you can adopt the strategies I learnt into your own life.
Take time out!
Regardless of a deadline (study or personal) there is always time to take a short break. Every hour, get up and move for at least 5-10 minutes. Importantly, take yourself away from what you were doing. If you have been staring at a screen or book, then find something nice to look at in the distance.
Stare at the window or take in the surroundings in your house. Resist the urge to jump straight from one screen to another. I found it helps even more to tune-in to what you can hear, what you can smell around you, and what you can feel in your body or mind. I always take a few deep breaths too. It really helps to reset and refocus.
Sitting endlessly is really bad for your posture, as well as your overall health. You don’t have to be a gym junkie, but you should always aim to be moving throughout your day.
I have to admit that when my focus shifted to assignments or exam revision, it meant that my regular schedule of weightlifting and running was affected. It’s likely yours will be too. However, it doesn’t mean throwing in the towel!
Rather, find yourself a minimum that you can commit too. If you find you are torn between responsibilities i.e., your study load and your exercise, I find it is helpful to remember that flexibility with your expectations is important. You are only one person, be kind to yourself.
Sometimes things are out of your control. But the deadlines will always be there. So, plan ahead.
At the beginning of each semester, I would always download and read the subject outlines the day they were released. By the end of the first week of session, I would have a document with each subject and the subsequent deadlines in a table. Remember to include any weekly tasks, assessment deadlines, and exams (if known).
If you have a regular work or family schedule outside of study, that is amazing! If you don’t (like me) then take the time before the beginning of each week to write out your diary or schedule to allow time for lectures, your workouts or physical activity, when you can break for lunch/dinner, and of course… the due dates for any assignments if they aren’t already in your calendar.
Importantly, celebrate your achievement at the end of the day or week. Try writing down three things you achieved that align with your values.
Remember that your journey, while challenging at times, should be rewarding and there is always support you can access from the university. There is a wide range of services including Academic Skills Support, Counselling, LGBTIQA+ Services, Financial Guidance, and Special Consideration. Check out the student services link even if you don’t need any services right now. It is handy to remember, and you may have a fellow student who could use a hand.