Self-care amidst an endless workload

It’s easy to get lost in our responsibilities, but this can be avoided by managing our routines

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A balance-type scale. It is sitting on painted wooden slats in a variety of bright colours. The scale is polished golden, and stars adorn its base.
There’s more to life than our academics. PHOTO: Elena Mozhvilo / Unsplash

By: Charlene Aviles, Staff Writer

We’re encouraged to constantly be productive regardless of the cost. Overwork culture promotes overworking as “a status symbol that puts us on the path to success.” As students with the ambiguous goal of “academic success,” it is always possible to study more. This runs the risk of taking over our lives. Without proper rest, productivity will be temporary. Setting clear boundaries between work, school, and home helped me establish the work-life balance necessary for my well-being and success.

Concerned about students burning out, a teacher once gave me advice: “It’s not about the quantity of hours. It’s about the quality of hours.” Her motto still resonates with me, especially as a working student. With a schedule busy with academic and work-related responsibilities, a balance between school and non-academic priorities — like fitness and friends — is key to sustaining my mental health.

During my teenage years, I neglected my hobbies in favour of my studies. It wasn’t until the break before transferring to SFU that I was reminded of life outside school. Going forward, I was determined to maintain a work-life balance.

Re-engaging in activities like dance were a source of joy. When a friend invited me to perform at her birthday party, I jumped at the opportunity. As part of the traditional Filipina debut, pairs perform a waltz called the Cotillion de Honor. The weekly practices not only helped me stay active, but also keep in touch with my friends.

When universities transitioned to remote learning, my work, school, and home environments overlapped. During online classes, I would work, study, and rest in the same room, so I needed to develop clear boundaries to maintain a work-life balance. By scheduling regular breaks and through the use of a few tricks — weekly snack dates with a friend, or a study-exclusive playlist — I was able to keep my schoolwork from overflowing into the rest of my life.

In the pursuit of academic success, it’s tempting to prioritize work over getting enough sleep. However, chronic sleep deprivation has several consequences, such as difficulty focusing and an increased likelihood of anxiety and depression. By setting clear boundaries to separate my study time from the rest of my life, I established a healthier sleep schedule. While being better rested helped me concentrate for longer and complete my daily to-do lists, the reinforcement of my mental health was invaluable.

Phrases such as “time is money” glorify work. Similar to a neverending workload, people are faced with the pressure to work long hours, risking an addiction to work. Money and time can both be spent and saved, but it’s equally important to invest time into other priorities, such as health, fitness, friends, or family.