As a lifelong learner, I would like to share a snapshot of my journey as a student in academia.
I started my science degree at the University of New Brunswick when I was 17 years old, living at home with a support network around me, where everything was familiar- friends, home, family, etc. After 2 years I decided to major in the Agricultural Sciences and dip my toe into independent living to attend the University of Guelph in Ontario. This was a big change at a big school, living in residence, new people, and navigating everything new. I struggled to stay focused on my school work because I did not have a strong container of self-discipline and structure.
The structure is the framework. The framework is what could have held me in the chaos of possibilities. There were infinite possibilities for me each day, and my mind loved it. I could go for coffee with friends, or hang out in the student union building watching people while pretending I was studying. I spent evenings going for chocolate sundaes at the Whippletree restaurant with my new friend from residence, putting on weight! or spent my weekends going to the farmers market, shopping, meeting with friends and my boyfriend. All important, but school took a back seat to all of this. I was distracted by all the newness.
The structure is so helpful in managing distractions, a framework for your life as a student. The structure is what you get to create with a routine that you follow- the framework that holds you. The framework reflects your ideals for a balanced life- sleep, social, service, self-care, and study.
Let me break down each:
- Recommended sleep time: 7- 9 hours. Neuroscience research is suggesting that getting to bed before 11 will get you into a healthy sleep cycle while rising early, i.e. 6 am (depending on the time of year) and looking at the morning sky, will trigger the melatonin cycle, the neurotransmitter associated with the circadian rhythm of the body.
- Social: this is important to bringing balance to your life, such as meeting with other students, study groups, and of course your friends, family, and loved ones. This helps to release positive hormones into the system when you are surrounded by loving and positive people.
- Service: This could be the part-time work you do, caring for a sibling, helping around the house, caring for your space, or a friend. It is one of the most gratifying experience when we think of others instead of ourselves. This helps us to stay positive and fulfilled in what we are doing. The other secret here is to think ahead to when you have your degree and who will benefit from the work you do.
- Self-care: Exercise, diet, water, reflection, play!, sing, practice your passions- art, writing, music making, etc., and look for opportunities to find and most importantly, share your Joy. Also, take quiet time to create space and reflect on what is happening in your life, in school and journal so you can see the challenges, and identify the action to make a change. And reflect on 5 things you are grateful for!
- Study: create a daily practice where you are preparing and reviewing your lectures, planning out your assignments, and starting NOW. Commit to specific ideals for your semester, what you are aiming for and aiming high, and let your routine reflect these.