"Grey, you should go get some sleep. Tell your group to get some rest as well. You guys have been working so hard for the last few weeks! It's fine if you submit the project one or two days late, but for now, you and your friends should all take a break!" And yes, that's exactly what my TA told me when I asked her for an extension.
I began working as a part-time Co-op student during the last semester, while also pursuing full-time studies? Yes, you heard that right, part-time Co-op and full-time studies. Was it a challenge for me? Absolutely. Did I feel stressed out? Definitely. Did I manage to succeed by the end of the term? Surprisingly, I did, and it turned out to be my most successful term at SFU, to be honest.
How was I able to handle everything when it seemed like everything was happening everywhere all at once?
The truth is, I'm not the best when it comes to handling stress, and I tend to get overwhelmed easily, which often leads to burnout situations, especially in the middle and end of the semester. However, during those moments, I remind myself of something my Co-op manager always told me: "Everything will be fine. Remember, just one step at a time." So, while I may not have the perfect solution to help you breeze through your semester, I can provide some tips that might assist you in getting through those tough days.
- Begin your work ahead of time: In my early university years, I used to be the type who would wait until the last day to begin my paper. However, if I had the opportunity to go back in time, I would not have done so because it severely added to my stress levels. The problem is that we cannot predict what might occur in the following weeks, such as being inundated with assignments from your workplace or coursework, so it is advisable to begin your work early, if feasible. This approach not only will help you schedule your work and life more efficiently, but also keep up with tasks, and significantly reduce your stress levels.
- Seek for support: As someone who tends to have a solitary mindset, asking for help can seem daunting since I feel like it may inconvenience others. However, this is not always the case. When you're going through a tough time, don't hesitate to seek help and let others know what you're going through. After all, people can't help you if they don't know what's going on. Just make sure to communicate your situation clearly. In my case, I was fortunate enough to receive support from my manager, colleagues, friends, TAs, and even professors during my difficult times. Believe me, it's a huge relief for both your physical and mental well-being when you can confide in someone about your struggles. If you're unable to find anyone to talk to, consider visiting the school's counseling services, as they're a great resource for getting the help you need to feel better.
- Take one step at a time: It's common to feel overwhelmed and exhausted between school and work responsibilities, wondering why everything seems to pile up at once. However, it's crucial to remind yourself that you're not alone and that everything will eventually be okay. All you need to do is take one step at a time. Instead of feeling lost and indecisive about where to start, choose one task, whether it's high-priority or random. Once you start with the first task and maintain a steady pace, the rest will become more manageable and easier to handle.
- Take a break: Taking breaks is crucial to prevent burnout. Many students feel that taking a break is a luxury as they fear that they might miss a deadline. However, after experiencing burnout myself in the previous semester, I strongly suggest taking breaks. Breaks can help you recharge, reduce stress, and improve your overall well-being. You should schedule regular breaks throughout your day, such as taking a short walk, having a coffee break, or simply stretching for a few minutes. Also, remember that it's okay to feel tired and shut down for a time, as it's your body's way of signaling that it needs a break. Trust me, you are gonna feel better!
To sum up, maintaining a good balance between work and study is not only about excelling in both areas. It can be difficult, particularly if you have a busy job and are pursuing higher education. However, it is crucial to remind yourself that everything will be okay and to give yourself credit for what you have accomplished so far, as it can serve as a great source of motivation. And, of course, take a break because you deserved it!