The Daily Gamecock

Column: Practice balance this semester

With the new school year in full force, it's important for students to start the practice of maintaining a good balance between work and life.

Most students know the full effect of burnout, a feeling of exhaustion from being overworked. This can genuinely harm a student's mental health and their work at school. To combat this feeling, students need to start finding a way to separate school and work from their home life and understand the signs of burnout. 

"A lot of times when I hear students talk about burnout, there's a correlation with the motivation too," said Jennifer Cross, a licensed professional counselor and the coordinator of counselor training at the counseling and psychiatry department. "Like 'I'm not feeling motivated to do things, I'm having a hard time completing tasks or maybe feeling like I've hit a wall in some ways.' I think those are all some indicators that might be alerting us something's going on." 

Other signs to look out for are a lack of passion for things, attitude changes like irritability and moodiness and withdrawal from classes. Knowing the signs of burnout in yourself and others is important to prevent it. 

But if you find yourself hitting a wall, reach out to a friend or a professional. 

"I think it can be very profound to hear ourselves say something, and we maybe don't realize how much we've been holding or harboring until we do start to talk about it and realize, like, 'wow, I'm doing a lot' and to have that validated by other people as well can be very significant," Cross said. 

Talking to someone can be a powerful tool to help students work through stress. There are also so many resources on campus that can help students through this stressful time. The counseling center, located on campus, offers services like counseling to students from in-state, meditation services and stress management consultations. 

Another great service on campus is the Student Success Center, which offers students help with time management, tutoring and study skills. 

Utilizing these services is a great way to lessen the stress that school can cause. Another way is to practice balance. 

Maintaining a healthy work or school balance is easier said than done. But starting early and setting expectations for yourself and others is a good way to start. 

"I think it's really important to start now and then prioritize," said Jasmine Carter, the program coordinator for faculty development for University 101 programs. "Whatever opportunities you take, make sure they know —  the people that you're gonna be working with — that you value, that's a value of yours, work/life balance, and they need to be able to support you to do that."

Setting boundaries for yourself is a great way to separate your work from your home life. While there are going to be times you have a lot of work and have to bring it home, it should be few and far between. 

School can be a little different since students often have to bring their school work home, but this shouldn't mean work has to invade your home life completely. Scheduling is so important, whether on a Google Calendar or a physical planner. Knowing what kind of work you have when it's due and finding time to do that as well as finding time for fun is essential. 

"Don't procrastinate," said Skylar Deichmann, a sports management graduate student. "Making sure that you can get your stuff done early, and that way you can kind of have time. Whether it's like at the end of the week or in the evening to go out with your friends, do fun stuff and take care of yourself that way too."

Another way to separate your work and home is to put yourself first. 

"Don't be afraid to say no to things," Carter said. "It's okay to say no. You don't have to explain why you're saying no. You just know for yourself that if it's not a good thing for you, then it's okay to say no." 

While saying no isn't always the easiest task, it can save you from unwanted work. Another tip to creating that balance is not taking on more than you can handle. Understanding your limits on what your mind and body can manage is important. 

Mental health should be a top priority for students. Maintaining that balance is a great way to protect your sanity while completing your work.