5 Ways to Avoid the Breaking Point

Classes, jobs, student groups, homework, exams, friends… we’re all juggling a number of responsibilities at any given moment, and it’s a wonder we ever find time to enjoy a sliver of a social life. Throughout “the best four years” of our lives, we’re constantly trying to give 110% to each and every responsibility, but sometimes we just need a break. Here’s what you need to know about keeping your sanity and balancing responsibilities in college.

1. Don’t be so hard on yourself

So you had eight items on your to-do list and you only finished five. That’s okay. You meant to have salad and green tea for lunch but you got a burger and fries instead. That’s okay, too. We need to have goals and set expectations for ourselves, but we also need to remember that no one is perfect, and it’s okay to press pause every now and then. Figure out how to prioritize the items on your to-do list, so that if you don’t finish some of the smaller tasks by the end of the day, you still go to sleep feeling accomplished.

2. Sleep

The number of students I know who average 4-5 hours of sleep a night is astounding. For those who’ve forgotten, we should be getting 8-9 hours of sleep a night. And I get it. Sometimes, it’s impossible. Papers and projects are often due at midnight, and you check the group document at 10:00PM only to see that no one has pulled their weight and it’s up to you to write five pages worth of content. But on those other nights, when you try to will yourself into having a photographic memory as you stare blankly at your textbook until 3:00AM, you’re not doing yourself any good. Spoiler: you’re not going to remember that content when you wake up tired and frazzled four hours later. Know when it’s time to pack up the books and hit the sheets. You will thank yourself in the morning.

3. Allow yourself some “me” time

In a similar fashion to allowing yourself sleep, remember to allow yourself some R&R. We are in a unique stage of growth and development as students, and it’s important that you ‘treat yo self’ from time to time. This means that when you haven’t looked away from your laptop screen in 10 hours and your roommate invites you out for pizza, you take her up on the offer. Or, when you hear of a fun event on campus that conflicts with your scheduled self-loathing, you put it in your calendar with a reminder to actually attend. Little things add up, and there’s no point in spending precious energy hating the things you do.

4. Eat better

I’m not going to tell you what to eat. You know yourself, your body, and your lifestyle better than anyone else, but you probably also know that you could be eating healthier, more nutrient-rich foods on a daily basis. If you don’t get enough sleep, eating unhealthy food is only going to make you feel worse. I promise, when you eat better, you feel better!

5. Learn to say no

Finally, don’t be afraid to say no every once in awhile. Take it from someone who takes a full course load, is in multiple student groups, and works three jobs. I like saying yes! But always saying yes to your friends, your coworkers, your boss, means you’re probably saying ‘no’ to yourself. It’s better to take on a new project later, once your schedule is established, than to say ‘yes’ to every opportunity at the beginning of the year or semester, only to find yourself having to bail on the promises you made. Your grades, your health, and your sanity come first. Dive into what you’re passionate about, but don’t feel like it’s your responsibility to make sure everything gets done. No one can do it all.

This post was originally shared on CLAgency.umn.edu. View it here.