Balancing the Busy & Preventing Burnout

Happy March everyone! I’m currently blogging from Daytona Beach, Florida, there’s approximately two full months of the Spring semester left, it’s Midterm season, its PT test season, and for me its a season highly saturated with Matlab coding. My go-tos for being very busy during this time are adding clay face masks to my nighttime routine (to help my skin combat wearing cloth face masks all day), drinking lots of coffee (and lots of water to balance the lots of coffee) and in the true nature of a college student – adding peanut butter and hot sauce to basically all my food for fast flavor for my microwave rice or noodles.

I am currently in the thick of it, in terms of being extremely busy. Something I struggle with balancing during the busiest times always seems to be powering down at the end of the day. Sometimes I have weeks of “on” mode, constantly go, go, go, next assignment next due date next quiz/test to study for, next time commitment, and it’s hard to actually slow down. While tapping into the productive flow state can be helpful for a few days or a few weeks, it is certainly not sustainable in the long term. That being said, I am absolutely guilty of planning my weeks ahead of time, scheduling my days with lists, and powering through by showing up for each item on my list. The thing most of us forget to prioritize in all that though, is time for ourselves!

Outside of yoga, coffee and conversation in car rides is one of may favorite ways to relax.

Usually when schedules get busier the first items that gets “kicked off” my To-Do list are the items that have to do with self care and taking time to wind down. This leads to burnout! 

I am a strong believer that we make time for the things that are important to us, but also that sometimes there isn’t enough time in a day to complete all the tasks we elect to do.

Tips and tricks I’ve found that help me center myself and prevent burnout: 

Balance is key! I have found that showing up for myself has never had negative effects. Taking a moment to calm down, meditate for a few minutes, go for a run or a workout, or nap when I need it is essential. You know your body/mind best so if you need to schedule time to check in to assess what you need to help you feel and perform your best, do so!

One of my other favorite ways to relax is looking at pictures from my sister of my puppy niece, Daisy! Never fails to brighten my day.

Let’s circle back here, while it is absolutely essential to take care of yourself, a balance is absolutely essential too. For example, I don’t like doing my homework, and my classes are stressful, but in order to eliminate my stressors I could either do my homework and get through them, or not do my homework and avoid them. Doing my homework leads me to be more stressed on my own time, but less stressed during tests/exams.

Not doing my homework and taking a break is sometimes needed, but it’s important to differentiate between taking breaks and neglecting your responsibilities. When you need a break, take a break, but if you find yourself not finding motivation to do ANY homework, circle back to why you signed up for the classes in the first place and think about your end goal.

Whether that goal is graduating, passing a class, earning any type of degree, commissioning into the military, all of us have motivation of what made us choose to be in college and why we stay. Find your reason and reflect on how it will feel to get your degree or reach your end goal. When things get tough, circle back to what keeps you going!

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

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!