College, Career, Social - Balancing for Wellness

 
Mary Nguyen, Balancing for Wellness

When I was in my engineering undergrad, someone told me “you can either have good grades, adequate sleep, or a lot of fun - but you can never have all 3”. So now let me tell you - I was studying, working, engaging in fitness, and spending time with loved ones. But it was NOT some kind of happy circle that I was able to consistently maintain at all times.

So when someone asks me how did I balance it all back then, I simply say prioritize. That meant that some weeks I had to sacrifice going out on a Saturday night or missing the gym consecutively to cram as much course material as possible. And other weeks that meant being able to take it easy and recenter on all of the things that I loved.

Even now in my career, I’m still faced with the whole “how do I balance it all” barrier. My mind is like spaghetti, constantly running together and thinking of new (or current) ideas, vision and goals. Although this isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can often result in me feeling overwhelmed, anxious and definitely over-loaded on caffeine (which are all not good).

So as much as I want to say “you can do it all!” and “just keep pushing!”, the truth is that how well we perform in our daily tasks is heavily dependent on how well we are doing mentally and physically.

We’re not going to be able to do it all, all the time. We have to determine what is valuable to us and how to prioritize it. Thus, being intentional is a key factor in balancing. It’s not just being motivated enough to crush through all of our daily tasks, but also making time to do the things that make us feel refreshed and alive.

Increase Flow & Decrease Busyness

Be intentional

Creating a schedule and implementing a routine is important in accomplishing my goals, because let’s be honest, the couch and TV calls my name every single day. If I don’t plan for it or purposely set myself up for success, then it’s less likelier to happen.

For instance, health is an important factor in my life. So I like to pack my gym bag and meals the night before so that I’m prepared for the next day. If it’s already there, then I have no excuses to miss the gym or eat unhealthy.

Similarly, my blog is something I’ve been wanting to accomplish for a while now. At first I struggled to get it off of the ground, until I realized that I just had to consistently set time aside for that, too. Although our goals may be different, the point is that balancing is just being mindful, intentional and purposeful.

Focus on yourself

Some weeks my schedule is so full that it puts me in a funk. I do not at all enjoy being constantly “busy” for an extended period of time. So not only is it important to plan for your goals, but to also plan for yourself. Whether you have to schedule it in or have room for spontaneity, make sure that you’re spending adequate time focusing on your well-being.

Are you getting enough sleep? Are you eating properly? When was the last time you did something that you truly enjoyed?

Adding little things that I love into my daily routine helps me keep going. Like quiet time + a hot cup of coffee with myself in the mornings, sweating out the stress after work, and reading poetry late at night. And on the weekends, I make sure to do at least one thing I’ve been longing for all week.

Whether that’s going to my favorite coffee or wine shop, relaxing at a cigar lounge, dinner date, or simply being a couch potato, lol. I like to indulge, explore new things, and simply free my mind whenever I can. I allow myself to be flexible in my schedule without the guilt, because it keeps me thriving.

Learn to say “no”

A key in maintaining a balance is knowing how much is already on your plate and not accepting more than you can handle. Last year I was given an opportunity to work overtime for a few months as a chance to gain exposure, expand my skill sets and of course, make some extra money!

I was thrilled, because the project was both impactful and exciting. But I already had so much going on at the time. I knew that if I said yes, some other aspect in my life would’ve suffered. So, I rejected the opportunity (and not proudly or confidently either). It was hard, but it was necessary.

And I can give you countless of examples when I’ve actually said yes, but should have said no. Ranging from a night out with a group of friends (and then spending the next day recovering) when I had an important exam coming up, to spending hours picking up additional tasks for a group project.

Be mindful of every opportunity you accept, no matter how small, and its potential impact or consequences.

Unplug

Take a real break. Balancing isn’t just about incorporating both work + fun into your schedule. It’s also relieving your mind from what you do so often. In college, I spent a whole year social media free. While I understand this isn’t necessary or deemed “do-able” for everyone, at the time it felt amazing.

It felt so freeing, because I didn’t spend hours scrolling away at other people’s lives. I was focused on mine and only mine. Since being back on social media, I’ve kept and still keep all of my notifications turned off. It has eliminated a lot of distractions for me.

Likewise, take a break from your work or computer. I don’t know about you, but once I focus on the same tasks for too long, my quality in work actually decreases.

So I like to get up and get moving, engage in real conversations rather than just e-mails, or simply go outside! Being a student or careerist means that you’re stuck behind a lot of walls.

Don’t let your life go by without seeing how beautiful the world is, too.