Do you ever get that feeling that you are swamped with so many tasks during the week and so little time? One day you are at school, the next day you have work from 9 AM to 5 PM, and the cycle just repeats throughout the week with only a few days off, if any. My life has been at that stage a few times already before I finally decided that something needs to change. The cycle was starting to take a toll on my mental and physical health, so I decided to cut back on both.
Now you may be asking how or when I noticed it was time to make a change. The main factor is the buildup of stress and anxiety. As I was constantly working and taking classes throughout the school year, I noticed that I would stress out over many things such as assignment due dates, exams, what days I am working, or what days I have free time to meet up with groupmates or do schoolwork. Just having to think of so many different factors at once made my stress and anxiety skyrocket. There were so many different things to worry about, so I decided that I needed to make a change in my lifestyle.
To create this change in my lifestyle I first had to determine what needed to be altered the most: my classes or my work days. There were times when I felt that I was working way too many days, while also taking too many classes, so I asked my manager to schedule me fewer days. I would ask my manager how the schedule is for all of my other coworkers, so that way I would know which days I am needed to work because those days have no one available. After learning which days I was needed, I would then ask which days other coworkers could work for me. From there, a schedule can be made after consulting with my other coworkers. Luckily for me, I have been working at the same restaurant for a few years now and most of my coworkers are very understanding and have somewhat flexible schedules, however, I know that may not be the case for everyone. If it’s safe for you, it can still be a good idea to try and talk to your boss or coworkers… you never know how understanding they might be!
Sometimes it can also be beneficial to drop classes if you are struggling to keep up, and there have been times when this applied to me. Even with the reduced work hours, I would struggle to keep up with my assignments and prepare for exams, so I decided that I would also drop classes if needed. This would always be the very last case scenario because I would not want to set myself behind by having to retake classes in the future. However, if I know that I am struggling to keep up even with reduced hours and that I am unsure that I will be able to get a passing grade, dropping the class and retaking it another time might be the best course of action for my mental health. Of course, this is just my decision, because I would rather retake a class that is too tough for the current semester rather than sacrifice my mental health while struggling to keep up with that class. Everyone should make decisions most aligned with their values and experiences.
The importance of balance between school and work is invaluable because if there is no balance, there will be too much stress and anxiety that you could handle. Finding the right middle ground of just enough days working and just enough classes taken, will greatly decrease your stress and anxiety levels because you will not have too much on your plate that way. Now it really is up to you to decide how many classes you can handle or the days you can work because everyone has their own hardships in life, but hopefully, this post can help someone by showcasing the importance of balance.
Bryan Nguyen (he/him/his) is a senior at San Jose State University. As a working student, he has spent his college career facing the struggle of balancing work and school. Knowing that many students, like himself, have to work through school, he's passionate about sharing his experiences to help others learn this balance, too. While tackling this issue, he also hopes to address student stress and anxiety in this blog series, sharing how he has overcome these struggles over the years.
Bryan will also be featured on Neolth's self-guided platform in his own video series about his struggles with stress and anxiety this fall. Sign up today to see his series and many others!