When you’re fortunate enough to study in the US, you might think that your only job and duty is to study, study, study. When others invite you to social activities, parties, trips to see local attractions, and natural scenery, your guilt might take over since you want to focus all your energy on your studies.
As admirable as that seems, it’s not the best course of action. To learn more effectively and have the best experience studying in the US, you also need to “live” in the US, which means enjoying a life outside of the classroom.
If you’re struggling to achieve an effective school-life balance, here are a few ideas to help you get there.
1. Create a Defined Schedule for Study Time Each Day
Do you know what times of day you are usually the most productive? It could be any time, but it’s typically the morning for most people. It would help if you built a workable timetable for each day in which you allocate specific time for study based on when you will be the most productive. This does not include class time, of course.
Doing this will have several benefits. First, by defining the times of day in which you should be studying, by default, it also defines times of day when you can relax or pursue other interests. This helps you take a huge step towards a better school-life balance. You must make time for life if you want to enjoy it.
2. Build Friendships from Day One
To get the most out of the “life” side of the balance, you need to have a good group of friends you enjoy spending time with. You don’t need huge numbers. Just one or two is enough if you have a good relationship with them. If you make it your goal to nurture and develop those friendships, then you’ll naturally find opportunities to hang out and have fun with them.
Even just meeting up for lunch or dinner is a great start. On the weekends, you can go out and enjoy the nightlife together, or you can stay in and enjoy an at-home get-together. Perhaps play video games, binge-watch a new show, or start an epic Dungeons & Dragons game. Bringing friends into your study routine will also help take some of the academic burdens off your shoulders. In any way that you look at it, building those connections with friends will contribute to a better school-life balance.
3. Pay Attention to Your Physical Health
Next, failing to achieve a healthy balance can impact your physical health. When you are physically run down and fatigued, you can become more susceptible to illness, especially viral infections like colds and flu. Achieving a balance where you have relaxing social activities, physical exercise, time to eat and drink healthy (best achieved through cooking), and getting sufficient rest and sleep from the day, will make you feel better and have more energy.
Diet is one area in which many students don’t pay enough attention. In their stressed-out busy state, they’re often tempted by cheap and easy junk food, which raises blood sugar levels, causes a more depressed mood, and lowers energy levels. In addition, students may not realize they can enjoy healthy, affordable food when they purchase ingredients and cook for themselves.
4. Don’t Forget Your Mental Health
Besides physical health, mental health also needs to be accounted for. Part of any healthy balance must include good mental health. Students who focus entirely on academics and not on life get themselves into a vicious cycle of stress. More work creates more stress, and that stress also stimulates the feeling that you’re not doing enough work, so more work is added to the pile, which makes more stress, and so on.
Making time to de-stress and relax is crucial. Physical exercise can be a great help when trying to improve mental health. Activities like meditation, yoga, walking, and spending time at a spa or gym are all ways physical activity can improve your mental health. None of these activities have to take any significant time away from studying, and a more relaxed mindset will make you more receptive and productive in your academics.
5. Keep Plans and Goals Realistic
Finally, it would be best if you were sure that you keep things both realistic and achievable when making your school-life balance plans, targets, and goals. It’s no good saying you’re going to spend X number of hours studying every night if you can’t actually manage that. Equally, you can’t fit all of your academics into a single hour every week while you spend the rest of your time socializing with friends.
The school-life balance is just that: a balance. It needs to be carefully thought out and requires dedication and self-discipline on your part. But, if you can make a plan and stick to it, the balance will come plus the many benefits that go along with it. Contact CSI and find out more about our activities.