The Balance Between Career College, Work, and Personal Life
Creating a balance with school-work-life can be very challenging for many people. For college students, a lack of life balance can become overwhelming if healthy living and wellness aren’t factored into the equation. Research indicates about 50% of all full-time college students have jobs outside of school. This number jumps to 80% when it comes to part-time enrolled students. With work, school, family, activities, and friends all demanding attention, many students struggle with balancing, re-balancing and prioritizing the different areas of their lives.
Most of us are aware that high levels of stress can hurt our mental health. Because of the growing rates of anxiety, depression and other mental health concerns occurring across campuses in Canada, there are questions you can ask yourself to help support your own mental health while working and staying in school:
How many hours do I need to work?
Is work getting in the way of your study time? Are you balancing your work/school load? Do you find it difficult to study after you are finished your shift? If you work less, will it make you feel better about completing your studies at school?
How does my current job relate to my schoolwork or future career?
Is your current job going to benefit you with your future career? If not, is it necessary to stress at your current job? Is the stress at work worth your overall well-being?
Am I making time for my basic needs and myself?
Do you still have time for physical activities or house responsibilities? Cooking/cleaning? Sports/workouts? Yoga? Are you making time for your family, friends or other important people in your life? Do you have time to enjoy all these activities while not stressing about school/work?
What can I do when I am feeling overwhelmed?
In what different ways do you deal with stress? Are you willing to sacrifice some fun over priorities? Do you use your resources to help deal with daily/weekly stress factors?
Balancing it all in a totally new and different environment is a tremendous change for students. Additionally, those who may have been out of school for quite some time may be the most challenged. Here are some solutions that individuals have employed in order to manage a healthier personal and professional life all at the same time.
Reinforce your personal support system
When you choose to make a life change such as going back to school, it can affect your partner and your family, not just you. This can be especially true if you are caring for small children or elders. It is always healthy to speak and communicate regularly with your partner during your time back in school. Can he or she take on more responsibility at home? If the burden is too heavy for your partner, can someone else among your relatives or close friends pitch in? Although you are sacrificing a bit now to prepare for your future, make sure your partner and your family understand this objective, support your decision, and are willing to lend an extra hand at home.
Communicate with your professional contacts
Speak with your current employer to adjust work expectations. If your program (Accounting Administrator, Massage & Hydrotherapy, Medical Office Assistant, Office Administrator, Personal Support Worker) is related to your current job position, mention that your studies will ultimately help you add value at the office. In turn, this can assure your manager and colleagues are motivated to accommodate your new schedule. If your program is not related to your current job position, try to balance your schedule so that it does not interfere with school hours. Instead of working 20-35hrs per week cut it down to 10-15hours and see if you are still able to manage your workload. Lastly, it does not hurt to ask your boss about flextime, delegating responsibilities, or working from home – you never know until you ask!
Rearrange your priorities
Devising a strategy for handling work and school will ease these pressures and enhance your performance in both areas. It is a known fact that a high incidence of illnesses occur in college during periods when students are under additional pressure such as writing papers, completing presentations and studying for exams. Carving out time for social activities and spending time with friends is extremely important but feeling pressure that you should participate in every social event is not so ideal. The key is to find the types of activities that make you feel good and helps you to recharge so that you can face your commitments and responsibilities with renewed energy and a renewed sense of purpose.
Cut yourself some slack
Getting plenty of rest, exercising, mingling with friends and making time for fun are different ways for you to balance the many demands of career college life. Occasionally you may have to pull an all-niter, get less than eight hours of sleep and miss some exercise each week. Nonetheless, you should make time for personal sanity and reward yourself for a job well done. Treat yourself to dinner at a nice restaurant or a day trip out of town. A rigorous education demands your time and energy, but it shouldn’t deplete your health, your professional or your family life. Continue to have healthy conversations with your main supporters, discuss how you can help each other and what external support you may need when times get busy. The key here – give yourself a break and unwind!
As you continue to find balance with work and your degree, remember why you are doing so. We all have our own reasons for going back to school – from increased earning potential to career advancement. Whatever your personal reason is, keep it in mind so that your goals are always in sight. Each person must find his or her own way of combining career, relationships, and personal care into an integrated whole. What is right for you now will likely change as new circumstances arise, so take the time to check-in with yourself and learn to adjust. Following this simple advice above might not melt all your stress away, but it will help you stay sane while maintaining a busy schedule. Remember, you don’t have to go through it all alone…our staff at CCHST is here to help you every step of the way!
Are you or someone you know interested in attending college for a second career?
Visit Canadian College for more information or to speak with an advisor today 519-977-1222!