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  • Writer's pictureAlayna Dorfman

Back to School: How to Maintain Balance




The Effects of School on Mental Health

School’s back in session and you have those bittersweet feelings of going back; you’re excited to meet new people and perhaps learn new topics, but maybe you’re also resenting those high-pressure deadlines, the academic strain, and the social pressure.

At BYBS, we understand how it can feel hard to find a healthy balance between school, work, your social life, and extracurricular activities. Not only that, but it can be hard to hold onto any sense of security and calmness during such high-pressure times. That’s why we’re here to discuss some ways you can help bring better balance to your life so that you can remain firmly calm and fulfilled when going back to school.


Personal Insight from Our BYBS Team Members:


ALAYNA DORFMAN (BYBS Content Creator)

AUGUSTA UNIVERSITY –> UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

As a student who’s currently pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology, I can personally relate to the mental drain and extreme academic stress that school can put on a person. So, I wanted to share a bit about my own personal experience and give you some real, actionable tips that worked best for me, as it provided me with a more balanced lifestyle overall.

  • I learned the importance of a healthy relationship between sleep and studying. By studying during the day/early night and going to bed at a reasonable time, the test material is effectively stored in the hippocampus: the region of the brain associated with memory function. As a result, I would always wake up feeling well-rested, confident in my knowledge over the test material, and free from anxiety/stress.

  • When I was enrolled at Augusta University, I did online classes for a year. I thought digital learning would help bring more balance to my life, as I could focus on other aspects such as work, extracurricular activities, and socializing. One thing I fell short from was communication with my professors. Since my online classes were asynchronous, I didn’t have any online lectures to attend, and I was left confused a lot of the time. In order to break the cycle of confusion and doubt in my quality of work, I encouraged myself to always send an email whenever I was unsure of an assignment or just needed extra assistance. Not only did it benefit me, but my professors could see the effort I was putting in and grew more respect for me because of it.

  • When I was attending in-person classes, I learned the importance of blending my social life with my school life. That being said, I made it a priority to have group study sessions; it made me look forward to them because I felt fulfilled in a learning and social aspect, as it created this strong, intellectual bond between students, as well as a deeper understanding of the material we were studying for.

HALL BIRDSONG (BYBS Clinician)

THE COLLEGE OF WILLIAM & MARY

  • Focus on learning rather than outcomes. When I just focused on my grades in undergrad, I ended up memorizing information for tests but not remembering most of it a few months later. In graduate school, I focused more on being active in class discussions and reading the material rather than cramming for tests, and paradoxically, got better grades as a result.

  • Try to be active during class and engaged with your professors. You never know who a professional contact down the line, or who might be a good reference for a job. Professors take notice when you seem like you are engaging in their material.

ROCHELLE YOUNG (BYBS Clinician)

UNIVERSITY OF SOUTH FLORIDA

  • Expectation Management. Don’t overdo it with your planners and schedules. As someone who lives with ADHD, I know that I have a tendency of romanticizing ‘future me’ and what she’s “going” to do. So, I’ll go out and buy all the new planners, calendars, and spiral notebooks, but then, I get overstimulated, and it ends up being a burden! I then find myself going back to the same simple routine that works for me and I feel a bit annoyed with myself for wasting time and money. Each semester, I reflect on what worked best for me the prior semester and what didn’t, and I try to keep things as simple as possible!

JORDAN JONES (BYBS Clinician)

FLORIDA SOUTHERN COLLEGE

  • I like to get into a sleep routine before school starts. During the summer, I find it easy to stay up later and sleep in. As school approaches, I try to go to bed earlier and wake up earlier to help myself feel well-rested for the day.

  • Get work done early. I’m actually a huge procrastinator, so doing this is a huge thing for me. It feels so good when I get my homework done days before the deadline. It gives me time to edit or just relax!

  • Set a time to be done with schoolwork. This is still something I am working on as I go through school, but no one enjoys doing schoolwork all day and night. Setting time aside each day for working is helpful so you don’t burn yourself out.

  • Talk to your professors. If you are struggling mentally, professors will often understand what is going on. If you need an extension or extra assistance, just communicate with them that you have been having a difficult time and they may be able to accommodate. It never hurts to ask!


NICOLE MALENE (BYBS Clinician)

UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN

  • Burnout is real. When school starts, our plate quickly becomes filled with readings, assignments, and school schedules. Making sure we clear out space for free time, self-care, and important hobbies is a necessity to keep us moving forward with motivation and a clear head. Self-care and hobbies aren't just a reward after we have everything done, they are a necessity for our mental well-being.


The conditions of your life may determine which tips will fit best into your life, but these are the ones that brought us the most amount of balance!

Now that we’ve covered a few of our personal strategies for school-life balance, let’s explore some more true ways to manage the stress:


Tips to Help Maintain Balance at School

  1. Create a schedule. Develop a daily or weekly schedule that includes dedicated time for classes, studying, extracurricular activities, rest, and leisure. Having a structured plan will help you manage your time efficiently and reduce the likelihood of feeling overwhelmed.

  2. Prioritize tasks. Identify the most critical tasks and assignments and prioritize them based on deadlines and importance. Focus on completing high-priority tasks first to avoid last-minute stress.

  3. Set realistic goals. Set achievable goals for your academic and personal life. Break large tasks into smaller, manageable steps, and celebrate your accomplishments along the way. This approach will boost your motivation and confidence.

  4. Limit distractions. Minimize distractions while studying or completing assignments. Find a quiet and comfortable space to work and consider using productivity tools or apps that block distracting websites and apps during study sessions.

  5. Practice time management. Learn to manage your time effectively. Use techniques like the Pomodoro Technique, where you work for a set time and take short breaks to enhance focus and productivity.

  6. Engage in physical activity. Incorporate regular physical activity into your routine. Exercise is not only beneficial for your health, but also helps reduce stress and improves focus and concentration.

  7. Stay organized. Keep your study materials, notes, and assignments organized. A tidy study space and well-kept materials can help you stay focused and avoid unnecessary stress.

  8. Practice mindfulness and relaxation. Incorporate mindfulness exercises, medication, or relaxation techniques into your daily routine. These practices can help reduce stress and improve mental clarity.

  9. Limit overcommitment. Avoid overloading yourself with too many obligations, as it can lead to exhaustion and neglect of other essential aspects of life.

  10. Nourish your body. Maintain a balanced and nutritious diet. Proper nutrition supports physical and mental health, helping you stay energized and focused.

  11. Practice self-compassion. Be kind to yourself and acknowledge that perfection is not the goal. Embrace your strengths and weaknesses and allow room for mistakes to happen as part of the learning process.

By incorporating these tips into your daily life, you can maintain a healthy balance while navigating the demands of school and other responsibilities. Remember that achieving balance is an ongoing process and it’s okay to adjust your strategies as needed to find what works best for you.


Need Help Finding Balance in Your Life? BYBS Can Help!

With the help from one of our mind-body-spirit therapists, you two can work together to find routines and habits – while at school – that fulfill all crucial aspects of your life. Your therapist can guide you in incorporating natural strategies (breathing techniques, yoga stretches, meditation, and mindfulness training) that’ll calm down your stress response. Here’s some BYBS clinicians that can help you work towards a better school-life balance.



HALL BIRDSONG

Areas of expertise: teens, young adults, life transitions, trauma, codependency, anxiety, depression, LGBTQ+


“I enjoy working with individuals who want to take a deeper dive into understanding the how and why of what they do. I believe you are the expert of your own life, and that I am here to help guide you to the answers you are seeking that are already within you. My unique skill is being able to hold space for you to explore your thoughts and feelings while also providing helpful direction and feedback when needed. I also teach specific mindfulness and meditation techniques that will help your de-stress, focus and learn how to thrive under pressure.”




JORDAN JONES

Areas of expertise: college students, first-generation college students, self-esteem, women’s issues, anxiety, depression


“While in college, others and I did not have access to counseling services growing up, so the college counseling center was their first experience in therapy. I believe that it is important to create a welcoming and safe space for those attending therapy for the first time and as they continue their counseling experience. I was fortunate enough to have that with my counselor in college and I want to provide that to others too. Attending therapy for the first time, and even sessions after that, can be scary and overwhelming, but I want to help you overcome those fears.”



NICOLE MALENE

Areas of expertise: Stress reduction/burnout, life transitions, anxiety, depression


“My approach to therapy is holistic, highly somatic and draws on eastern philosophies centered around awareness practices, breathing techniques, and acceptance and compassion training to help regulate both the body and mind and guide one’s energy towards a fuller and healthier expression of who they are. I believe that when one dedicates themselves to self-study and a more compassionate way of living, they can discover unhelpful habits and patterns of thought that perpetuate stress, trauma and discontent in daily life.”



Interested in learning more about our modern-day holistic approach that can help preserve your mental-being while in school? Visit our approach page on BYBS.


Benefits From Achieving a School-Life Balance

Ultimately, achieving balance with school life is an ongoing journey that requires continuous adaptations and self-awareness. Students who embrace this balance will not only excel academically but will also lay the foundation for a well-rounded and fulfilling life beyond their educational years. By valuing their mental and emotional well-being alongside their academic achievements, students can unlock their full potential and make the most of their educational opportunities. With dedication, resilience, and a mindful approach, students can thrive academically and lead balanced, fulfilling lives.



Thank you for reading, Back to School: How to Maintain Balance. As a student myself, I know how tedious it can feel to find a balanced routine that works best for you. Although tedious, diligence and patience can act as guides to help you obtain that balance; trust the trials and forgive the errors.


Alayna Dorfman



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