Breaks, Balance, & Burnout

Happy October everyone! I am currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, it’s Midterm season and the Fall 2020 semester is halfway over!

I am very excited for Thanksgiving break, taking finals from home (with my sister’s amazing cooking), and an extra long winter break. I originally didn’t expect that having 3-day weekends canceled this semester would have a huge impact on me, but I was definitely wrong. Today’s topic is how to take small breaks when you can, and prevent burnout.

Pre-COVID family moments that have me looking forward to the extra long winter break this year!

Health is a dynamic part of everyone’s life, and it plays a huge role in how you’re doing academically. This semester I’ve been busier than ever, which is still astonishing to me. Navigating full weeks of classes back-to-back filled with lab reports, essays, homework, quizzes, and exams is rough! Time management and self care will be your key to success. 

Set goals! I keep an outline of my weekly schedule, with recurring class times, meetings, study group sessions, and homework times. I fill in the rest of my free time as my responsibilities change every week with (typically) more homework, workouts, and meetings. Knowing your limits is important. Sometimes you have to gauge if an extra hour of sleep is more important than an extra hour spent studying, or vice versa. I try to keep a similar bedtime every day to keep my schedule consistent. By trying my best to stick to my schedule and by checking off boxes on my to-do lists everyday, I find consistency in the chaos. 

My AFROTC Fall 2020 photobook picture.

You will most certainly find me on a Friday or Saturday night doing homework and going to bed by 8pm from being mentally exhausted at the end of a long week. I’m at the point in the semester where I am heavily reliant on coffee and internal motivation. I find I thrive when I am fairly busy, but there is a fine balance between healthy workloads that challenge you to grow, and feeling burnt out and exhausted. Rest and recovery are equally as important as grinding to get your assignments done and hard workouts. Progress comes with balance!

Hydration, quality sleep, healthy eating, time to de-stress, and time to process what you’re learning in your classes are all very important! I have in-person PT once a week with AFROTC, one Remote-PT, and an in-person LLAB, so I usually wake up fairly early. On the nights before, I set my alarm very early in the morning, I try to go to bed as early as possible, and set my future self up for success by laying out my uniform, prepping my gear, and making sure that if there are steps I can take the night before that will give me a few extra minutes of sleep in the morning, I take them.

Sometimes this is as simple as pouring water in my Keurig and filling my reusable pods with coffee grounds, but it makes a huge difference in my morning routine if all I have to do is press a button when I’m half asleep in the morning. For you this might look like studying for a quiz the night before instead of the morning of, or prepping your cover sheets for your homework assignments for the week on Sunday evenings. Set your future self up for success, anything I can do to make my future self’s life easier, more peaceful, or more well rested, I try to do.

My preferred schedule (that I adored sticking to over the summer) started with me waking up to the sunrise (preferably doing yoga and going surfing) and going to bed at sunset. My Fall 2020 school schedule doesn’t allow for my leisurely preferences, but I am very hopeful that my winter break will be filled with hiking, resting, lots of sleep good food, and my sister’s new puppy! My motivation lately has been looking forward to the future.

Keep on keeping on folks, stay safe, and I will report back soon!

Balance & Busy Schedules

Happy August everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida pulling a power weekend (meaning I’m on call working at my Resident Advisor position) after following a power week of working 12+ hours daily jumping from Orientation Team activities to RA move in shifts and I feel like I haven’t had time to catch my breath, even though classes haven’t actually started yet.

I’ve spent most of August hopping from trainings and working with the same people (masks ON Eagles). My residents are finally moving in and I’m very excited to meet everyone, even if it is primarily over email, GroupMe, or Zoom meetings. Between door decorations, hall decorations, bulletin boards, presentations, meetings, welcome and orientation events, it’s a wonder I’ve even been getting sleep lately. We LOVE good time management skills.

Much to my surprise, I’ve still found time to do yoga every morning and alternate my calisthenic workout days with my cardio days in between my busy schedule. I am a firm believer that people make time for what is important to them. For example, if you’re feeling exhausted and overwhelmed with obligations and options make a list and prioritize your commitments. Be SURE to include your commitments to your self care too! Mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health are very important to a well balanced lifestyle.

O Team with my favorite leader!

Most questions I get related to college life from new students are centered around academics, which are extremely important, but not to the extent that you neglect your well being.

Story time! My first semester of college I was getting between 4-6 hours of sleep every night and I was mentally not in a great place, even though I was giving academics the majority of my attention. While there may be many outlying influencing factors in this, my second semester of college I made an agreement with myself to get at least 8 hours of sleep every night. Amazingly, I found that my final letter grades were identical in ratio to my first semester, with no deviations.

Only did my grades start improving when I started focusing on my ACTUAL wellbeing, my overall health, and balancing my time between myself and everything else.

O-Team is our favorite team!

In high school, middle school, and elementary school I took a fair share of mental health days, didn’t go to class on my birthday, and most certainly didn’t go to school if I was sick. When I got to college I was extremely stressed and constantly felt like I was trying to catch up and compete to not fall behind in the work culture.

What you give your time and energy to is SO important, and a little self care goes a LONG way. If I am crunched on time and need to decide on an extra hour of sleep or an hour of working out, my answer constantly changes depending on how I’m feeling and what I need to accomplish for that day or for the next day. You have to make the best decisions for yourself. Set boundaries. Don’t stretch yourself too thin! Prioritize your time, energy, and commitments, while reflecting back on your needs.

Will report back soon folks! Keep on keeping on!

Balance & Blessings

Happy February everyone! This month is coming to an end and there’s a lot of exciting things in the works just around the corner. 

For AFROTC cadets in their AS200 year everyone seems to be holding their breath until Enrollment Allocations for Field Training this summer are released. Midterms are just around the corner, and preparation for projects and presentations are in full swing, with lots of quizzes and homework sprinkled in between. Am I stressed? Yes, but I am also extremely grateful to be in the situation I am in and I am genuinely enjoying the ride.

It is so easy to get caught up in the to-do lists and the responsibilities, but once you find a balance and ride the flow of everything, it’s almost beautiful how time management works. Now folks, you may be reading this and think I’ve cracked the code, but I’m still tired all the time, so its definitely a process. I would say the things that keep me the most sane are my friends, making time for myself to workout, do yoga, just breathe, getting packages from my family, phone calls with my grandma, facetiming my mom, texting my sister… not to mention a countdown to spring break, mini countdowns until the weekend each week, and keeping tea and an emergency stash of dark chocolate as my go-to when homework and studying keeps me up late at night.

Some of my friends and I after a sandbag beach PT!

I recently got news that I was rehired for my Resident Advisor position for the 2019-2020 school year and have the privilege of staying in my same building!

In other news, my flight from AFROTC had a bonfire on Friday night that was really great. You would be surprised that the people you see and interact with in training everyday are so multidimensional. Getting to know them on a personal level outside of only seeing each other in stressful situations is really an eye opening experience. You hear everyone talk about how getting to know your people is extremely important for a well functioning team, but until you actually make an effort to do so, it doesn’t resonate how truly important this is.

And now for a few facts to help you get to know me better:

I spent yesterday in the beautiful partly cloudy 85 degree February Florida weather volunteering with AFROTC at a Track Meet with some of best friends.

I love Kodiak cakes pancakes, and making pancakes, with fresh maple syrup and some sort of nut butter spread on them. Breakfast is my favorite meal hands down, and sometimes when I’m having a bad day I most certainly eat breakfast for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. The freedom in college is nice like that.

My new “thing” is smiling at strangers in passing when walking to class, because although everyone complains, it’s truly a good life and we’re lucky to be here.

I usually end my days with yoga and a cup of tea before bed.

Sometimes when I’m stressed I look up pictures of Romanesco Broccoli, which actually isn’t a broccoli, it’s a cousin of the cauliflower, which follows an infinite Fibonacci Fractal sequence. I discovered this vegetable’s existence last year in Paris with my sister and have been fascinated ever since. Nature is so beautiful.

Romanesco Broccoli per an ad to purchase this “broccoli” on Amazon. It’s wild looking, right?!

Will report back soon. As always, I am writing to you on a Sunday morning with a cup of tea and pancakes, I have a meeting in an hour, along with some homework I need to tend to. Until next time, enjoy the journey friends!

Fall & Focusing on Commitments

Happy Fall everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida (yes, once again).

The first month of the semester is almost coming to an end and it truly has flown by. I’ve been so busy with classes, working out, homework, RA obligations, and trying to balance my work and school life. A key aspect of being successful when having a lot on your plate that I talked about before is balance. More specifically that can be boiled down to time management, i.e. planning and prioritizing, but in addition to those is staying true to yourself and your principles.

View from my dorm in the morning, I try to start every day with a positive outlook!

When I first got to college everyone told me to sign up for as much as possible and get very involved, then once I figured out what I liked the most and what I wanted to devote my time to, to narrow down what I was involved in to only what was most important to me. Embry-Riddle offers so many amazing clubs, extracurricular activities, and organizations on campus, but realistically it would be impossible to spread yourself so thin by trying to do everything, we’re only human. A kind of time management “rule” I’ve come up with for myself that’s helped me through college and life in general is that once I commit to something, it becomes my priority.

For example, if I find out two weeks in advance that a teacher is holding a Supplemental Instruction (SI) session before a test, I put it in my calendar and commit to it. Then, (also hypothetical) a week before the SI session, I find out an organization I’m involved in is volunteering for an event on campus scheduled for the same day and time as the SI session. This now presents a dilemma, because volunteering with friends would be more fun and the organization might be something I really care about, but I have to stay true to my word. Rule of thumb: even if the commitment is only to yourself, hold yourself accountable to your commitments. Reliability is a great skill to have and now is the perfect time to develop it. When I commit to something I give 100% of my effort, and you should too!

Photo from an AFROTC event!

Outside of being extremely busy lately, I am still trying to make time for myself and keep a positive attitude. Classes are challenging, and maintaining balance is sometimes difficult too, but parting words my friends: when you look at all of your responsibilities and commitments as items you have an opportunity to participate in or complete, your to-do list becomes less of a dread and more of something you’re lucky to be a part of.

Just keep swimming folks! Will report back soon!

Getting Involved 101

The biggest piece of advice that people tell you when you get to college is “get involved.” Anyone can tell you to get involved, but the real questions are ‘why?’ and ‘how?’ When you go out to get a job, any job at all, they will look at your education and what your skills are, but one question every company wants to know is “What did you do outside of class/school?” If you have nothing to demonstrate, you are less likely to get hired. Reason being is that there may be hundreds of people applying for that same position. Some will have more qualifications then the next person, but those qualifications will set them apart from you. “What makes you unique?” Getting involved and being able to say that you worked on ‘this’ and did ‘that’ sets you apart from everyone else.

How do you get involved? Here at Embry-Riddle, we have more than 130 clubs and organizations that will help you do just that. Even professors and students can help you get involved in research and final senior design projects. It sounds that simple and it is that simple. The only thing standing in your way is you. If you say every day that you want to get involved and you are going to get involved, but then you don’t, you are the one not letting yourself get involved. ERAU just had its Student Activities Fair where all the clubs and organizations lined up all the way from the library and down Legacy walk to show what they were all about. Students were able to learn about the club/organization and join if they pleased.

As a freshman coming in the Summer A term, I was already involved on the NASA NEEMO project and the MEERS project before I became an official ‘student’; but there was more I wanted to get involved in. Talking to some of the professors and graduate students on both the HF and ME side, I found out about some interesting research projects. Just by putting myself out there and showing that I am interested, a hard worker, and willing to work, they welcomed me in with open arms. Now I am in multiple clubs, organizations, and research projects…Human Factors & Ergonomics Society, Human Performance in Extreme Environments, Society 4 S.P.A.C.E, American Society of Mechanical Engineers, and more!

Getting involved is great! You get to learn and experience new things as well as meet new people. It is great to put your involvement on your resume. However, a couple mistakes that people are likely to make are getting too involved, and getting involved just to get involved. Although college is known to be the best time of your life, you still have to focus in academics. Getting involved too much can cause you to pay less attention to academics and put them on the back burner. Academics come first. Also, when you get involved in something, make sure that you want to get involved. Don’t just get involved because you think it will look good on your résumé, get involved because you are truly passionate about it. There are plenty of things to get involved with on campus.

People ask me all the time, “how do you do it?” “How do you balance, academics, involvement, and socialization?” Honestly, academics come first. Whenever I get a homework assignment, I don’t procrastinate; I get it done. Every day I lay out what I need to do. Homework and studying comes first. Then I move on the clubs and organizations and then finally everything involving “Astro Skye.” It is all about balance. Some people have a higher tolerance than others, it depends on the person. So whether you are at ERAU now, or are a future student, get involved!