Balancing School and Family, Student Life

Stress Management Tips to Support your Work-Life Balance

Caring for others can be stressful at times. Combined with being a student, life can occasionally feel overwhelming. This doesn’t have to be the case though. UofT Adjunct Professor and Learning Strategy Specialist Janelle Joseph shared some fantastic tips with us at our Stress Management Webinar in March. We’ve also included a list of some great UofT supports. Here are some of the key takeaways of Janelle’s talk:

Stress Can Be Good

Crazy idea, right? Well it’s true! Stress shouldn’t totally be eliminated from your life. This is because some arousal helps you to perform at your best. When we find ourselves unable to keep up with life it’s because we’ve gone past our ideal stress threshold. While this level is unique to each person, we all need to find our personal balance between being overloaded and underloaded.

Self-Care Is Key and NOT Over Indulgent

Ever find yourself missing meals when you’re stressed? This means that your self-care practice is slipping. Keep an eye on your physical health, mental health, social life, and nutrition intake when your nerves are fraught. Keeping ourselves healthy allows us to¬†continue to support our loved ones. Personally, I berate myself when things aren’t working out smoothly. Janelle reminded us that self-compassion is essential to remaining healthy. This means reducing self-judgment and admonishment. Don’t forget, negative attitudes lessen your ability to perform well.

Calming photo of stack rocks by the river

Some folks elect to see a therapist when times are tough. Therapy looks many different ways. For some, it’s speaking with a specialist. For others, it’s calling friends or watching Netflix alone. Always ensure that you have an outlet; we’re never alone in our struggles. Play is important too. Find things that give you joy on a regular basis and find micro ways to routinely engage in your favourite hobby. For me, this means scheduling book time into my planner. The day isn’t done until it’s checked off my to-do list.

Making School and Life Goals Will Make it All Easier

Time management becomes much easier when you’ve got a clear idea of your priorities. Write out your schedule and clarify your routine. This way, you can see what windows of time you have and say ‘no’ when you’re stretched beyond your means. Break larger projects into pieces, set deadlines for yourself with rewards, arrange the best time and space for your work, and be realistic! Emergencies happen, so ensure that you leave time for them. As well, reach out to your support network and remind them that they can always do the same with you.

‘Good Enough’ is the New ‘Perfection’

Reframe the perfectionism story for a realistic goals story. Note your achievements and hold them up high. Demanding perfection is emotionally abusive, whether it’s coming from someone else or yourself! Instead, use kind words with yourself and give yourself permission to leave some things un-done.

Build Support Networks

Speak with your supervisor/professors about your familial situation, meet with your peers, see your friends and family, and/or find a mentor! Have open conversations with your partner about your needs and tap into folks whose caretaking services you trust. Have little ones but in need of a sitter? Check out the FCO’s Babysitter E-Bulletin Board!

Communication is Key

Determine your communication style and those of others in your life, particularly if you’re having conflict. When you open up your communication lines, together you can determine how best to work with one another. Explain your values and priorities to those around you so that the likelihood of stress and conflict arising is reduced. In case problems do arise, make sure that you address them early.

Janelle Joseph can be reached via appointment at the Academic Success Centre or at

Some Can’t-Miss UofT-Specific Supports

  • Catch the Arts and Sciences’¬†Exam Jam happening in Sid Smith this Thursday, April 6th from 11am-3pm. You’ll be able to hear tips from the Academic Success Centre, get information on Mental Health, Nutrition, Safety, and Harm Reduction, snack on some free food, and hang out with puppies!
  • Hang out with Bella the Therapy Dog at Gerstein Science Information Centre on Tuesday and Thursdays from 11:30am-1pm April 4th-20th.
  • Watch or read the transcripts of our How She/He Does It! video series. Listen to your UofT peers’ stories and strategies on succeeding as student parents.
  • Connect with the support services on campus. Find counselling services available to students, staff, and faculty here.