Take Care of Your Health
Give your body what it needs to get you through everything you are doing in your life.
Get some regular exercise—a quick walk and some stretching for just 20 minutes can really help clear your head before work or studying. Exercise oxygenates the brain (perfect before studying!) and also reduces muscle tension. Your sleep will also improve with regular exercise.
Eat healthy! You’ll be on-the-go and meal planning may be tough. Make use of the easily prepared foods that grocery stores now offer—make them the healthy versions.
Carry healthy snacks with you so that you aren’t reaching for candy or sodas which will give you a temporary lift, but make you crash later. You’re in this for the long haul and you’ll want the stamina to make it.
Make time for play and rest. Even plan them into your schedule.
Find an Accountability Partner
What is an accountability partner? It’s someone who will hold you accountable!
This person could be a friend, work colleague, classmate or family member. If considering a spouse or best friend, consider whether your relationship can shift for the needs of being accountable.
Their responsibility is to check in on you and help you stay on track with your studies and work. Your responsibility to them to keep them up-to-date about your classes. Be honest with them about your progress or lack-there-of. They are your cheerleader and can help you work through problems. They should provide you tough love if need be.
When things get overwhelming (and they will) your accountability partner can listen to your gripes and remind you of the goal—your degree. A half hour over coffee could be just what you need to refresh yourself, so you can get back to the work of getting through your classes.
Nurture Your Relationships
This is your life and you want it filled with love and laughter, don’t you?
Be intentional about showing affection. Enjoy those you love. Practice ‘being in the moment’ as they say. A snuggle on the couch, talking and listening to each other…it’s all about your life. You may think that Chapter 5 must be mastered tonight or else, but a little time spent with family nurtures your spirit—something that lasts past this semester.
Really set aside school between semesters. Rest and deepen your relationships when between semesters.
If your relationships are strained because of the toll your work/school load is taking on you, seek help. A school counselor, student support group, or your house of faith leader are good resources for you.
Try to Limit Media
If you work and go to school, you are saturated with information coming at you to be learned and acted on. You are mentally engaged for many hours a day. When you come home, you have family to care for. All of that demands your attention and focus.
It can be tempting to escape frequently into FaceBook, other social media, streaming television, et al. However, spending a lot of time with media can spread you too thin mentally. There are studies that indicate the brain’s circadian rhythms are disturbed by smartphone and computer screens. This disrupts the brain’s sleep mechanism.
It’s a good idea to stop with the screens a couple of hours before bedtime whenever possible. If you study into the night, switch to a textbook, listen audio files or podcasts about your subject. Read over hand written notes.
Make your social media time a treat for yourself when you’ve done your studying. Trying to study and text friends at the same time probably means you won’t get very high-quality results with the studying.
How you start your day and end it can create peace of mind and focus.
At the beginning of the day, give yourself a few minutes to think and prepare for the day ahead. Anticipate the things that will require the most of you. You’ve got this!
In the evening, do the same to slow your mind down. Give yourself credit for a day well-lived or let go of the things that were troublesome. Tomorrow is a new day.
Adapt and Apply What You Know
You wear many hats when you are pursuing your degree, working, caring for your family and managing day-to-day responsibilities.
Take a look at the steps or structures you follow to complete your tasks at work. Can you adapt them to planning your schoolwork or home chores? If you get your job done by following a series of tasks, you can break down that term paper into a series of tasks. Each completed step will lead naturally into the next and make everything manageable. It also lets you build from success to success!
Share Your Success
Were you able to have a good study session at home because your kids were quiet and didn’t disrupt you? Thank them and let them know how they helped you.
Did a co-worker swap a shift when you had a class final? Let them know that you passed, and they helped make it possible.
Learn Your Limits
This may be the toughest lesson to learn. For most people, it’s a lifelong challenge if they choose to take it on.
We live in a society that praises the workaholic. People boast about only sleeping a few hours a night because they are working so much. If someone didn’t achieve a goal, the attitude is usually that they didn’t try hard enough. You may be measuring yourself against this mindset and your self-esteem suffers. This is a signal that you may have reached your limit and need to release the pressure.
There may come a class that you just can’t pass, and the best choice may be to drop it and work it into a timeframe later on when you can better tackle it.
Life happens. You may need to take a semester off if it is in the best interest of you and your family. You’re not a failure for doing so. You’ve simply reached your limit and choose to put your efforts where they are really needed. Don’t think it’s a setback. It’s just a pause. When things settle down, you can pick up your classwork again.
That thousand-mile journey is done one step at a time. You can always get back on that road again.
Be sure to visit MakingEducationPossible to review their benefits. They have tools to help you plan your degree, incorporate online courses that save you money and can be completed on your own time schedule. MEP education consultants can help you start your own thousand-mile journey for a degree!