Student Self-Care Tips: How to Balance School, Work and Life

graphic of students atop giant scale in balance with icons for time, health, exercise, learning, sleep
Mental HealthStudent Success
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Lindsey Myers is a Mechanical Engineering major from New Mexico State University 


Since my early years in grade school, I’ve had to learn how to balance school and life. In elementary school, it was girl scouts’ meetings, piano lessons and gymnastics competitions. In middle and high school, it was National Honor Society, band and volleyball. Once I got to college, fun extracurricular activities turned into parttime jobs and projects. Being active when I was young was a great way to prepare for the college struggle of becoming an adult and handling greater responsibilities

Put schoolwork first 

The biggest tip I have to give about keeping the balance between school, work and life would be keeping school at the top of your priority list. I made it a point to get schoolwork, studying, and homework out of the way as soon as possible before I even thought about doing something else with my time. Schoolwork is usually the most stressful part of my week, so getting those items out of the way early makes tackling the rest of the week a breeze.  

If your job is prohibiting you from getting your schoolwork done or distracting you from your studies, reduce your hours or find a job that is flexible with your school schedule and needs. The extra hours are not worth failing a class over! It helps to find a job that has a consistent schedule so that your mind and body get used to the rhythm and flow of your week. If your job has intermittent shifts/scheduling, keep a planner or calendar, and keep track of what days you work and what deadlines you have for school to stay organized and on top of everything. This is a good habit no matter where you work or how old you are. 

Learn from your experiences 

Being in college teaches you so much about being more independent and transitioning into adult life. You’re exposed to more people. You have to meet more deadlines. You have to learn from your mistakes, manage your finances and be there for your family and friends. 

I personally had some tough experiences in college such as having to leave campus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, losing several close family members and even contracting the virus myself in the middle of the semester. I’ve learned that there will always be obstacles and setbacks at any point in your life. Getting older doesn’t ever get easier, we just get stronger. It’s the way you learn and grow from these experiences that really teaches you who you are and who you want to become. Once you’ve figured this out, you can tackle anything that comes your way.  


Know when to take a break 

The last self-care tip I recommend for keeping a good balance is realizing when you need a break. This is something I struggled with for a long time. I was always busy and moving from one thing to the next, so I never learned when to take a break. I almost viewed taking a break as a sign of weakness. I’ve learned it’s a sign of maturity. Knowing when you need to take a step back and let your mind and body reset is a very powerful and underrated skill. Whether it’s a late night of frustrated studying, not having enough time in the day or tension in relationships, taking a step back is an important form of self-care 


If you’re looking for additional wellness tips to share with your students, share our wellness webinar with former counselor, Fred Lara.