What’s important to you? If someone asked you that right now you’d probably say the general things that are important to everyone, right? Family, friends, maybe health, and perhaps some other things.
That does not come as a surprise, and it’s interesting to note that each of these things relate to health.
Family and friends are critical to our sense of wellbeing in the world. It comes as no shock that social isolation is linked to many mental illnesses (either as a cause or as a result of the illness).
Family and friends are our soundboards; they give us people with whom we can compare our lives and they act as a support. They are intrinsically rewarding.
Physical health is also a blessing. We all know someone who has struggled with a physical health problem and we understand the toll it can take on a life.
When you’re in school all of these areas are compromised due to time constraints. Contacting family feels like a burden, time to spend with friends is rare, and exercising and eating healthy are far from the minds of most students. Consequently, we suffer from our busy lives.
Most people feel like a terrible burden has been lifted from their shoulders when they begin their summer break. Is that the way it should be? Is university a burden we must bear to prepare for the rest of our lives?
That was certainly the way I approached university when I first started. I saw each semester as a sprint to the finish and I felt thrilled when I got to the end knowing I had tried my hardest in every way.
The first two semesters however, I spent next to no time with family, very little with friends, and I disregarded physical health more than I would have liked. I was proud of my academic accomplishments. But treating each semester as such was something I knew I could not sustain—it was making me miserable.
This article may be geared more towards the type A personalities out there, but for everyone it’s important to know that sometimes your most productive moments will come after taking some care of your mental and physical health.
Time with family or friends, or time otherwise spent working on your wellbeing, is not time wasted: it’s time invested in your happiness and academic endurance. That endurance is what’s required to stick it out to really get what you want out of your time at university.
Take it from someone who has had very few days of moderation in her life: if you want to push yourself to the extreme, you need to consider your mental and physical health. You can make great things happen if you’re willing to work hard, but you can’t if your mind and body aren’t strong enough to take you there.