tan, white and brown cat lying on its belly

How I Maintain My Non-Academic Passions As A Full-Time Student

Being a full-time student is the equivalent of (or more than) a full-time job. Even when I'm not in class or doing schoolwork, I still find myself thinking about school, mulling over ideas for my next assignment and anticipating future classes. School can truly take up a lot of mental space.

Here are some things that I've learned about balancing school and life, and how important it is to keep doing fulfilling activities as a full-time student:

grey fence surrounded by shrubbery and dandelions

1. Engage and Invest In A Life Outside Of School

red vehicle and other multicolored vehicles on a highway, below a traffic sign that reads "Deerfoot Trail"

When I first returned to U of T after my gap years, I completely threw myself into academics––to the point where I forgot to maintain my hobbies, watch Netflix, go on road trips and practice self-care. If I had any free time, I spent it getting ahead on my readings, revising my assignments and reviewing for upcoming exams.

While being overly studious is a fantastic way to get on the Dean's List, it's not the best way to keep your mental health in check. Studious students do best because we're academically-focused; however, it's possible to take it too far.

I've learned that it's all about creating a balance. There's more to life than school, and it's important to value your hobbies, your friends, your time for yourself and more. I truly cannot stress this enough.

2. Schedule Time For Fun and Hobbies In My Planner

As someone who frequently forgets to schedule time for myself (it's a very bad habit, I know!), I have recently made it a point to schedule relaxing activities for every day at the beginning of each week.

Now that it's summer, I've started planning time for walks, petting my friend's cats, making ice cream visits, reading, watching Netflix and more.

cat with white, tan and dark-brown colored fur

Even when the fall semester begins, I'm hoping to regularly make time to watch movies, television series, study Spanish and decorate my room on a weekly basis. Even if I can't practice every hobby each day, I want to make time to do it every. single. week. Without fail.

Self-care is also a great way to de-stress, and it's not just about bubble baths and face masks. Self-care may include booking therapy sessions, writing in my journal, or spending a full day painting landscapes that you'd like to live in.

3. Work Hard During Study Sessions So That I Can Relax Stress-Free

a picture of my pink kobo e-reader
a picture of my pink kobo e-reader

Now that I'm a fourth-year student, I feel like I've hit my groove in terms of developing effective studying habits. For the most part, I understand what I need to do in my classes to get by.

One skill that has really helped me throughout my undergraduate career is setting a goal, studying hard for a determined amount of time, and then enjoying whatever reward I've planned out for myself. This inspires me to complete my assignment, essay or test, so that I can gift myself time for relaxing and enjoying life.

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