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School-Life Balance

In order to optimize functioning, it is necessary to find a balance between the various roles one plays. A student often wears many different hats: partner, worker, friend, classmate, etc. Often times these roles are in conflict, and a student must be adept at attending to a variety of factors and assessing priorities.

How does it impact academics?

School-life balance is important for optimal academic functioning. Students often prioritize academics at the expense of personal factors, including relationships and exercise. This can lead to a decline in academic performance, as general health and well-being are critical to optimal academic functioning.

How does it impact relationships?

The quality of your relationships can determine the health of your school/life balance. A large focus on academics can cause strife in personal relationships, minimizing your sense of support. Similarly, a preoccupation with relationship issues at the expense of academics or work issues can be detrimental to performance, which can put further strain on the individual and the relationship. Finding ways to integrate school and personal life is essential.

How does it impact the workplace?

Students juggling work in addition to competing obligations from school and home may experience greater challenges in striking a balance. In these cases, it is even more crucial that you are adept at attending to different roles and setting priorities.

Succeeding as a Graduate or Medical School Student

Succeeding in graduate or medical school means more than simply doing well in your coursework. In fact, much of what you will learn during your graduate school years will not come from classes but rather through activities such as research, clinical work, internships, attending conferences, serving on departmental and university committees, preparing papers for publication, and joining professional organizations.

Self-motivation, self-discipline, time management, and the ability to prioritize are all essential ingredients to graduate or medical school success. The following tips can help you develop what you will need to succeed in graduate or medical school and beyond.

Manage your time

Time Management is a key component to academic and professional success. It is an essential skill that will help you concentrate your efforts on what is most important.

  • Plan your schedule
  • Make a weekly to-do list
  • Prioritize your work
  • Break large tasks into their smaller components
  • Set goals and deadlines for projects
  • Avoid perfectionism
  • Honestly assess the amount of time you waste

Beware of too much stress

Stress keeps us focused and aware of all the things that need to be done. It can motivate you to study harder and complete assignments and projects on time. But when your stress level becomes more than a motivating tool, or when pressures are too intense or last too long, you may be in stress overload.

Signs of Stress Overload

  • Anxiety or panic attacks
  • A feeling of being constantly pressured, hassled, and hurried
  • Irritability and moodiness
  • Physical symptoms such as stomach problems, headaches, or even chest pain
  • Allergic reactions, such as eczema or asthma
  • Problems sleeping
  • Drinking too much, smoking, overeating, or using drugs
  • Sadness or depression

Ways to Relieve Stress

  • Exercise. Regular exercise is one of the best ways to keep stress levels under control.
  • Learn ways to relax your body through meditation, massage, and breathing exercises.
  • Increase your Vitamin D. Take short walks in the sun. Studies show that Vitamin D increases a positive and focused mood.
  • Laugh.
  • Practice positive self-talk.
  • Adopt a mantra such as “this too shall pass” or “I can handle this.”
  • Create an assets column that includes all of the things that bring you joy.
  • Talk to a friend or loved one.
  • Make the best out of stressful circumstances – be optimistic – your outlook, attitude, and thoughts influence the way you see things.
  • Ask for help. People who have a strong network of family and friends manage stress better.

Strive to be a high achiever not a perfectionist

Perfectionism refers to a set of self-defeating thoughts and behaviors aimed at reaching unrealistically high goals. It is based on perceived standards of excellence and often fueled by the need for others’ approval.

Contrary to the perfectionist’s belief that it is only through giving 100% to every project, assignment, or cause that they will find success, studies have shown that perfectionist attitudes actually interfere with success by leading to:

  • Low self-esteem
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Guilt
  • Rigidity
  • Lack of motivation
  • Procrastination
  • Obsessive/compulsive behaviors
  • Eating disorders
  • Relationship problems

There’s nothing wrong with striving to do the best you can; the key is in knowing your limitations. You can be a high achiever without being a perfectionist through practicing the following behaviors:

  • Set standards that are high but achievable.
  • Enjoy the process, not just the outcome.
  • Monitor your positive and negative thoughts.
  • View mistakes as opportunities for growth and learning.
  • React positively to constructive feedback.

Maintain a healthy lifestyle

Your physical and emotional well-being plays a major role in your academic, professional, and personal success. Take time to establish and maintain an active and informed wellness plan.

  • Exercise and sleep regularly.
  • Eat healthfully.
  • Make time for yourself.
  • Enjoy and spend time with friends and family.

Managing the conflicting demands of school, work, and family

Managing the multiple demands of your career, school, and personal life can be challenging, but you can be successful if you keep a few tips in mind:

  • Be where you are. Don’t worry about what you aren’t doing. Stay focused on the task at hand—don’t worry about work when you’re in class or studying, and don’t let work or school interfere with spending quality time with family and friends.
  • Set a schedule for the week and get organized. Plan segments of time for study, family, exercise, and other tasks that need to get done. Experiment with the best times for you to study and how frequently you need breaks. Also, figure out the best place to study where all of your materials are accessible and you can truly focus.
  • Reward yourself. You should plan a reward for sticking to your schedule or completing your work before a deadline.
  • Remember that you are only human. Nothing will get done well if you are emotionally or physically drained. Plan exercise and creative activities into your week to help keep you energized.
  • Use your support system. Discuss your expectations for school with your family and friends. Inform them about your schedule so that they know when you can’t be disturbed and when they can expect your full attention. Negotiate household duties based on your schedule.
  • Don’t focus on getting straight A’s. Since you have already been accepted into graduate school, your focus should be on the learning, not getting 100% on every exam or ranking #1 in your class.
  • Have some fun. Make time to enjoy friends and family; watch a movie; or read non-academic books.
  • Learn to say ‘no.’ This is not the time to volunteer to run new initiatives at work or assume new family responsibilities if you don’t have to. Just meeting your responsibilities at work, school, and home will be enough of a challenge for now. Remember it is only temporary.
  • Know when you need help.

JHSAP can help students cultivate time management, priority-setting, and organizational skills through individual sessions and/or group workshops and presentations.

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