Photo Credit: Shane via Unspalsh
Do you ever feel just as tired after the holidays as you did at the start? For me, the winter break always turns into a non-stop cycle of worrying about upcoming work responsibilities, looking at post-grad opportunities and refreshing Sakai to see if any of my marks have been released. Add studying for the LSAT and preparing for next semester into the mix and you guessed it: I was completely burnt out when January hit.
One thing I have to force myself to do is relax, which sounds silly, but it’s true. I have to restrain myself from checking emails and notifications in the evening and weekends because if I could, I would be on Outlook every waking moment.
I am too young to fully appreciate the term “Crackberry,” but once I heard this less than flattering nickname for Blackberry’s devices, it all made sense; I am addicted to my email, to school and to work. Technology enables me to indulge in my addiction, which results in habitual overworking.
That is why this January I am focusing on prioritization and, for lack of a better phrase, chilling the hell out.
So how do I, an avid workaholic, force myself to cool off and stop and smell the flowers?
Number one, good music. I don’t care what genre it is, when it is from or who sings it; any playlist that will get me out of my head and into a good mood is a must-have for my relaxation regiment. Music is one way I can snap back to the real world and remember there is, in fact, more to life than whatever task is at hand.
Next on my list is exercising and eating healthy. We’ve all heard it before so I won’t patronize you, but even a walk helps me cool down and reflect on why I am always so stressed about everything. Eating healthy is important to me too in order to avoid burnout (although my holiday eating habits tell a different story). Once the turkey leftovers are done and I am back on track to my normal diet, I always notice a difference in my mental state.
Diet and exercise are the more obvious burnout avoidance strategies, but watching movies is a sneaky way to force myself to sit still and relax for upwards of an hour (which in and of itself is a big feat). I put on whatever movie Netflix recommends and sit there, distraction free, for the duration of the film. Like it or not, movies tear me away from my emails and studies, which forces me to let my mind relax.
Next, meditation and affirmations. I will be the first to admit it, I still suck at these. Oftentimes I get bored, my mind wanders or I just skip this part of my routine all together because something else comes up. This semester, I am going to prioritize small practices, like meditation, that make a big difference in my mindset and outlook on my stress.
This one I am still working on too, but I feel as though everyone should take up a hobby to handle burnout. Something that eases your mind and has no timeline or due date will allow your brain to switch gears from a merry-go-round of stressful thoughts to a more relaxed mindset. Who knows, maybe I will take up knitting or crocheting.
Lastly, I make an effort to not glamourize overworking. If you had me on Snapchat circa 2017, you know exactly what I mean; I was President of the sending 3 a.m. study session snapchats committee. The energy drinks, staying up until ungodly hours and frankly, doing more work than needed, was what I thought university was supposed to look like, so I mimicked those unhealthy behaviours that I had seen in movies or elsewhere. I have fallen off the glamorization train in recent years (thank God) and urge anyone who may feel like they have to stay up late to study because ‘that is what university students do,’ to take it from me, staying up late and overworking is rarely ever the best plan of attack.
However you may handle stress, remember that nothing is more important than your mental and physical health. It is hard to put these things on the top tier of your priority list, but this January, I am going to try my best to do just that and I hope you will take a shot at it as well. Find what makes you tick and stick to that routine, there is no need to work 24/7 or jeopardize your health for the sake of a job or school.