Balancing work and play as a graduate student

As a graduate entry student, the university experience is drastically different from the first time around.

I had the luxury and privilege of living at home, having home-cooked meals nearly every night and not to mention a great support system that encouraged my every endeavour.

I learned so much from my first degree and while it led to a great first job that subsequently got me through the global pandemic relatively unscathed, I craved more.

Now, I study psychology and no one could have prepared me. I live independently, work part-time and study full-time to make ends meet and at first, I was not ready for the pressure. And you know, quite a bit of fatigue. Like, next-level fatigue. I’m sure my fellow mature-age students can relate!

That’s why it’s so important to balance work and play; no matter where you’re at as a student and most especially when you’ve come back to the study lifestyle after some time away.

I have a few recommendations to not only optimise your study life but also keep you from burnout on the whole:

  1. Have some hobbies. Does it sound cliche? Yes. Does it actually help? Also yes. I love digital planning, so while it keeps me organised, I also get to play with new digital stickers and features all the time. Which also leads me to scrapbooking; a great way to wind down after a long study day with no pressure to be graded!
  2. Exercise. This one is also a bit of a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how big a difference it makes. I dedicated a grand total of 0 time to exercise during my first degree, now I go to the gym at least twice a week as well as regular walks and occasionally some sport. (My fellow tennis fans where are we at!) I feel so much more clarity afterwards when I sit down to study.
  3. Stay connected. Having a support system both inside the study halls and out makes such a big difference. I make sure to balance my work and study time with plenty of relaxation, fun and catching up with friends.
  4. Set boundaries. I know that not everyone (myself included) has the ability to refuse extra work hours or say no without consequence, but I have found it so important to truly preserve my energy. If something is going to drain my reserves and impact my energy for hours, even days afterwards, sometimes it’s better just to say no.

While these little tidbits are not a magic recipe, they are the foundation of what has gotten me through the year so far, but I’m always learning and adding new tricks to my belt!

Tagged in What messes with your head, health and wellbeing, work life balance