It’s always important to try your best. But its at those really busy times when the real hard work – the push – is needed. Perseverance comes into play when you have essays due and exams looming and everything is ramping up to the end of your module or course.
This hectic, go-go-go approach IS necessary for busy students. When you’re studying alongside work and other commitments there are gonna be some crazy times. But, just as its necessary to work really hard sometimes, its also necessary to pull back after so you can recover.
This is a really difficult blog post for me to write because I know I’m not great at pulling back. Yes, I get exhausted. And yes, I do take some time to relax. But my default mode recently seems to be ‘busy’. I feel like I’ve normalised feeling stressed and just see it as adrenaline. So I try to jump back in too soon.
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If you’ve been working at 150% effort for a few weeks, then you NEED to work at 50% capacity for a few weeks afterwards to make up for it.
It’s not OK to just go back to your normal busy life. You have to make up for the deficit you created.
It’s like when you don’t get enough sleep for a few nights. It’s often not enough to have a few ‘normal’ nights sleep after. You have to add in a lie-in or two to get back to your usual energy levels.
It’s the same with studying, and any work.
When you’ve pushed for so long you have to make sure you pull back too.
Operating in crazy-hectic mode all the time is a one-way ticket to burnout. Psychologist Herbert Freudenberger coined the term burnout to describe a state of mental and physical exhausted caused by professional life. Symptoms include low motivation and passion, extreme fatigue, cynicism and negativity, and others.
Luckily I have never experienced true burnout but I have been close at times when I haven’t made sure to pull back when I have the opportunity. I’ve felt bone-tired even though all I seem to do is sleep and nap. I’ve had 3 colds in 2 months due to a crappy immune system. I’ve had weeks where I don’t want to study or work on my business or do anything at all, and I’m not sure why.
I am a true advocate of studying while working as it has so many benefits – earning while learning, no need to halt your professional development, use what you’re learning in your job role….etc.
So, to make sure we reap these benefits, and don’t burnout, we need to learn how to pull back and recuperate when we get a chance. For most of us that’s the end of modules and course years.
Taking some time for YOU may seem like a waste of time. But the benefits are massive. You’ll replenish your energy, motivation and passion for studying. You’ll find it easier to jump back in if you’ve taken some time out the water for awhile.
Studying IS busy and stressful at times. To really be able to give it your all during those times, and not burn out, you have to be good at pulling back as well as pushing. You’ll feel refreshed and motivated if you take the time to do less.
I’m taking a break from studying over the summer so will be definitely using my strategies below to make sure I have fun and come back feeling refreshed.
5 Ways to Pull Back When You’ve Pushed for so Long
1. Spend some time on those worn out areas
When you study life gets busy, its natural that you have to step back in some of the other areas of your life. This looks different for everyone, but, for me, when I have uni deadlines, my gym routine slips (or disappears). I often find more junk food creeps into my diet as stress kicks in and I have less time to clean and tidy the house. It takes me longer to reply to messages from my friends and family and my boyfriend Dom starts to see me only at the beginning and end of each day.
So take a minute to think about what areas of your life may be a little worn-out while you’ve been in crazy mode.
Importantly, there’s NO blame here.
It’s not that you’ve let yourself go, or let the house get into a mess. It’s that we can’t give our all to everything in life at the same time. When you’ve been working your butt off in your studies, of course you’re not going to be able to work your butt off on your health, work, relationships, and your house too.
Think about things you can do to replenish yourself in areas you’ve not had as much time for. This isn’t about filling up your time with busy tasks. It’s about getting clear on what you can now do for your wellbeing now there’s a little more room to breathe.
For me, this means I will spend some time decluttering the house, meal prepping some healthy food, and start building up my yoga practice again.
2. Stop tying your self-worth to your to do list
This is a big one for me so maybe it is for you too. I’m an overachiever. I enjoy being busy. Which means I loveeee the satisfaction of a completed to do list. But being busy, getting lots done, shouldn’t make up my self-worth. Having days where I relax and I don’t do anything productive shouldn’t mean I think badly of myself. But, alas, it does.
I’m not perfect. I still struggle with these things. But I’ve recognised this about myself and now, when I start feeling the shitty thoughts coming, I can remind myself that I am enough.
You are enough. You are doing enough. You are being enough.
3. Allow for white space and silenceHands up if you like structure? Hands up if you like planning out your day?
This is a great trait and skill when you’re in get-shit-done mode. But when you have time to relax, ditch the to do list. Don’t fill every single part of your day, even if you think its ok because you’re filing it with down time.
Also, make an effort to add silence into your day. I love listening to podcasts and I find myself playing episodes in every single space – when I’m driving, when I’m cleaning and tidying, when I’m brushing my teeth. I’ve come to not appreciate silence and so my big effort over the coming weeks is to add some silence and white space into my days.
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