Whether you are in first-year or about to begin the final year of your program, you need to make time for yourself.
In the summer, when The Brock Press puts out our Beginner’s Guide for incoming first-years; we offer lots of tips and tricks on how to navigate university. Many of those suggestions aim to help students cope with stress, or to help avoid it, by being proactive with course workloads. Much of the advice our staff give is useful no matter what year you are entering, though it can be easy to forget it.
One piece of advice most university students have been given throughout their years is to make sure they have free time for leisure. Whether your form of leisure is playing sports, keeping up with a show on Netflix, or reading a book, it’s vital to make time for things that are not school or work; spending every waking minute of your four years, or more, at university will drain you of energy — both mental and physical. When I reflect on my first three years at Brock, the years I enjoyed the most, I see that I maintained a keen balance in my life between coursework, a job, doing fun activities and spending time with family and friends. The times that I was most stressed and lost enjoyment for what I was doing were the times where I let myself get behind, which forced me to consume all of my time with coursework.
Of course, it can be hard to find that time for yourself if you are constantly putting things off — whether it be readings for courses or studying for midterms. Assignments and assessments sneak up on you quickly and, before you know it, it will be reading week. During the first week of your courses you should get yourself organized, figure out when things are due, record midterm exam dates and get a feel for how much time you will need to dedicate to doing work outside of going to lectures, labs and seminars. Along with that, you can figure out what days you will have time for yourself to do something other than studying without fear of falling behind.
No matter how much you love the program you are in, or how much you may enjoy the job you have, everyone needs time to be away from their obligations. Whether leisure time is a way for you to work off stress, a way to get exercise or an opportunity to spend time with others, having balance is key. It’s important to keep in mind that sometimes the things you do in your free time can begin to feel like obligations too. If you choose to participate in intramurals or another sport where you go by a set schedule, make sure you are signing up for something you think you’ll be able to attend most of the time. There are plenty of leisure activities you can do that aren’t bound by a schedule — for instance, if you are living in residence, playing board games can be a good way of spending time with hallmates while learning a new game.
Nonetheless, keep in mind as the semester goes on to enjoy everything university life has to offer. Go to the big events, even if you aren’t a usual sports fan. See what the city and region have to offer — if you’ve never been to Niagara Falls, go see the water and explore Clifton Hill. The more balance you can attain in your life the more enjoyable your year will be.