Being stressed to your limits on a daily basis is dangerous for your overall well-being. Yet, it is sometimes seen as commendable by some. It worries me when I see individuals create posts that say things like “My dreams are bigger than my sleep”. You can attain your dreams and sleep by using effective time management skills.
Let’s be honest: how many times have we heard fellow students or other colleagues argue about how much sleep they’re losing every night? Maybe you’re one of them. Often, the individual who does not appear to be shaking from excessive caffeine consumption and an overactive mind is viewed as lazy or not hardworking. How strange is that?
Said individual may be producing stellar results in all tasks. Yet, this assumption that they are not stressed enough may lead to believing that they cannot get the job done.
To me, this is known as glamorizing stress. Recently, I found myself at a point where I had to seriously wonder whether I was the only person observing this common occurrence because I haven’t heard anyone else speaking up about it. After scouring the internet for what seems like a decade, I was finally able to find a handful of passionate pieces relating to this phenomenon of stress being glamorized by our wider society. In one article that highlighted the experiences of the broke college student working towards academic goals, we are warned against viewing unyielding stress as an aspiration, as there may be dangerous personal repercussions.
When a collective of individuals views unhealthy habits regularly, it can become normalized. This then wordlessly encourages others to engage with the same. They may be told that “Nothing nuh wrong man. Dat me do and mi alright”.
What happens when lack of stress is seen as a sign of weakness? How about the thought that not being stressed is an indication that you will be unable to “handle” said stress as ‘well’ as others? This can lead to hesitation to seek out help when it is necessary. The cycle begins.
Struggle And Hard Work
I am by no means insinuating that we shouldn’t be hard-working people that persevere beyond any individual or collective struggle. Hard work and perseverance are vehicles through which we achieve our dreams, and that’s a fact that presents itself repeatedly. I am not an advocate for complacency. Neither am I opposed to “pushing yourself” when necessary. That being said, the stress limit is real, and we need to all be mindful of it.
Most of us, myself included, were not born with a silver spoon in our mouths. The struggle is very much a characteristic of our lives and there is nothing wrong with working in spite of it. My sentiments, however, hinge on the thought: since life is already hard, why make it any harder for ourselves? On purpose?
Don’t Sacrifice Your Mental Health
Don’t be afraid to appear weak. We don’t need to suffer in silence anymore. It’s not necessary to go through exam periods on little to no sleep, just to blank out and possibly fail our exams. We don’t need to be skipping multiple meals a day, especially when we can financially afford not to. There is always an easier way to find time in the day for everything you want to do, without sacrificing your mental and physical health in the progress.
Prioritizing is, essentially, measuring the importance of tasks among each other and focusing on the most important one first. We are taught to prioritize everything, except ourselves. Our happiness and our mental health are typically on the backburner. Yes, while I agree that “yuh nose haffi run”, taking care of yourself won’t make your struggle go away. What it can do though, is make you feel a whole lot better. I want to bring some attention to the fact that working smarter and not necessarily harder can get you what you need out of life. It can also protect your mental health in the same breath.
How To Relieve Stress By Using Effective Time Management
Time management may be defined as planning and executing a way to divide your time between specific tasks. It’s basically a schedule for your life. We often write to-do lists and have our work schedules down to a science but we most likely forget to insert other important things like ‘take a deep breath’,’ eat’ and ‘get adequate sleep’. You can do all of this. One of the most prolific quotes that I came across during my research is “ being busy isn’t the same as being effective”. I’m going to help you be more of the latter.
Five Ways To Improve Your Time Management Skills
- Make a plan with unexpected interruptions in mind. When you make your plan for the day and include a time span, be lenient with it. If it usually takes you 30 minutes to get to work, give yourself an hour. There might be traffic or you might have spilled something right before you were about to step out. When you make it to your destination with time to spare, you’ll feel less stressed. Whether or not you need the full hour, you will make sure that you are right on track.
- Cut down on the distractions but plan for them. No, I’m not talking solely to millennials whom the older generations repeatedly vilify for cell phone usage. However, we waste a lot of time bouncing between the distraction and the time. A task that could have taken an hour, would take 4 hours because you wanted to tweet and message all your friends about how hard this task is and that you still have yet to complete it. I suggest downloading an app that blocks certain apps during your productive sessions for a set amount of time. When that time has elapsed, go back to your distraction for a period of time and repeat the cycle.
- Use shorter productive sessions. Yes, shorter sessions can be more productive than you’d imagine. One way to do this is by employing the Pomodoro method. This method involves 25 minutes of focused work and a 5-minute break afterward. You can use the timer on your phone or use an app like “Clear Focus”. This app goes a step further to give you a graphical representation of your hard work, or should I say “smart work”.
- Write realistic to-do lists. Stop writing ten things to accomplish in the day when you know you really can only do five. Again, nothing is wrong with pushing yourself but baby steps are okay. If you usually do five tasks, try doing six. When you set too many tasks that you don’t achieve, you may end up feeling disappointed with yourself and you lose motivation. This then continues a vicious cycle which includes procrastination and becoming stressed out. causing you to procrastinate and become stressed out. Don’t do that to yourself.. Also reward yourself when you’ve done all the things on your list. You deserve it.
- Set your own deadlines. This tip has kept me as sane as possible throughout my academic life. If you have something due on a particular day, give yourself a deadline for a couple of days before the official deadline. I understand that school can be overwhelming and you may not even know where to begin. Prioritize those due first, but at least make an effort to make a start. Don’t put it off until the night before.
Be a smart worker that practices self-care. Push yourself gently rather than stressing out. Don’t risk your physical and mental health. You can achieve anything you want without compromising your wellbeing. It’s time to prioritize your mental health and stop glamorizing stress.
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