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3 tips to find life balance as a student

Life is a balancing act, and students need to become master acrobats in order to navigate their menagerie of tasks and roles. Between school, study, work, chores, family, friends, and maintaining a social life, there’s a lot to keep track of each week. If you’re feeling like you don’t have enough hours in the week to get things done, we have some tips for students to help them find life balance.

What happens when you’re not in balance?

It’s easy to fall out of balance – most working adults in only get around 15 hours of leisure (or non-work) time each day, including sleep. So once we take out the recommended 8 hours we should be snoozing each night, that only leaves 7 hours for everything else. If you want to see how you compare, check out this article from the ABC.

Lots of people write-off life balance as a luxury or a made up fad. But having good balance in your life can not only make you happier and healthier, but also help you accomplish more in the long run. The impacts of lack of balance in your life could include:

  • Burnout
  • Loss of motivation
  • Lack of ‘thinking’ time
  • Mental health issues
  • Physical health issues

Signs you could be out of balance

If you generally feel happy, healthy, and well-rested, then you’re probably already doing a pretty great job at the whole balance thing. Of course, there are always times when you don’t feel great, like when exams are coming up, you’re working extra shifts to earn more cash, or if you’re sick – that’s normal.

If you often feel tired, low, or that every day is a struggle, then it could be time to reassess your priorities and manage your time a bit better. If you don’t feel like the problem is going away, or if you have any concerns about your mental health, then please see a professional.

Here’s a few things to look out for:

  • You wake up tired
  • You find it hard to get to sleep
  • You often get sick
  • You’re missing your friends/family/hobbies
  • You no longer enjoy school or study
  • You often feel anxious, stressed, or miserable
  • Boredom is an issue for you

Life balance tips for students

There’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to finding balance in your life. The amount we need to work, rest, and play depends on how you operate – in other words, you need to find the right balance for you, not what you think you’re supposed to be doing.

If you’re not feeling in balance, here’s what we recommend you do:

Work out where you are

Make a list of what needs to get done (think school, sleep, or chores) and what you would like to get done (think playing games, exercise, or volunteering). For example, you might include:

  • Sleep
  • School
  • Chores
  • Homework and other study
  • Work or volunteering
  • Extra-curricular commitments
  • Hobbies
  • Social time
  • Life admin
  • Time spent on your phone or other device

You don’t have to go into that much detail, but the more you work out, the more wiggle room you might find. Then think about the number of hours you spend doing these things and jot them down.

Work out where you want to be

Once you’ve worked out how you’re spending your time, the next step is to think about how you would like your week to look.

We all have 168 hours in a week. If you sleep the recommended 8 hours a day, go to school from 9am to 3pm 5 days a week, travel an hour for school (there and back), allow an hour for eating, and spend an hour for other life admin each day, that leaves you with 63 hours a week to spare. This number is just an estimate – work out your number then use that for the rest of the calculations.

Now you need to work out what your priorities are. Go back to the list you made in step 1 and add up the things you both need and want to do each week. If you get to 63 (or your number of ‘spare’ hours) and there are still things on the list, then you’ll need to think about what matters most – so work out which activities you don’t need as much and work out a way to do less of them.

If you find you have loads of free time left – great! You don’t have to fill every minute or schedule every hour. But if there’s a club you’ve been itching to join, or a skill you’ve been wanting to learn, perhaps now is a good time to give it a go.

Build a plan to help you get there

Once you’ve reached this point, congrats! That’s a huge hurdle out of the way. Now you have to make the changes in order to address the balance problems and lead the life you want.

Here are some tips that could help you to achieve your end goals:

  • Use a planner, calendar, diary or app to write down your new timetable. This can help you stay in-check and create new habits instead of slipping back into your old routine.
  • Set goals and then break them down into manageable milestones.
  • Incorporate time limits into your schedule. If you want to play games or spend time social media, you don’t need to cut them out completely – just set an alarm to remind you it’s time to hop off. Got lots of study to do? Set a timer, and if you haven’t finished in the allocated time, reassess your study patterns and habits, or consider asking for help.
  • Speak to your family. If there’s high expectations of you at home, working out exactly what needs to be done and figuring out a schedule could really help.
  • Work out which activities on your list you can get rid of on a daily or weekly basis. If you volunteer but it’s taking up too much time, ask if you can help out on a more casual basis. If you’re doing lots of extra-curricular stuff, is it time to drop something for a bit?
  • Be flexible – some days or weeks you might have less school work or other commitments, or some days you might just feel more exhausted, so it’s always OK to change your schedule around.
  • Take breaks when you need them. You should never feel guilty about resting and looking after your body.
  • Unplug from social media and other screens from time to time (after a little while, you seriously won’t miss it).
  • Practice mindfulness, which includes being grateful, being present, helping out around home or with friends, or spend more time making better connections with people who make you feel good.
  • Try to stay active. You don’t need to take up marathon running, but even going for a quick walk each day can do a world of good for your health.
  • Learn to say “no” (nicely).
  • Ask for help if you need it.

Getting balance in your life is well worth it and is a great skill to use throughout life.

Find out more

We have heaps of other blogs for students on our website about health, wellbeing, life balance, and more here.

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The Youthline: 877 968 8491
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National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: 1 510 465 1984

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If you are in an emergency situation or need immediate assistance, always call 911.

Urgent Help
Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: 988
Talk Suicide: 1 833 456 4566
The Listening Ear Crisis Hotline: 517 337 1717

Kids Help Phone: 1 800 668 6868
Or text CONNECT to 686868

First Nations
Hope for Wellness: 1 855 242 3310
Or chat online at hopeforwellness.ca

Domestic Violence
Family Violence Info Line: 780 310 1818
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LGBT National Hotline: 1 888 843 4564
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Immigrants & Refugees
Refugee HealthLine: 1 866 286 4770

Multicultural Mental Health Resource Centre: multiculturalmentalhealth.ca


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