As someone who has wanted to pursue further education after my bachelors, I have often found myself trying to find a healthy balance between maintaining my grades and maintaining my mental health. Through my four years of schooling I have learned how to balance my grades and mental health in a way that works for me. In this post I’ll share what I have found works for me, and I hope you can use them during your schooling to improve your mental health as well!
The Most Important Tip Anyone Could Give
Your health is more important than any class or grade. Your physical health is important, but people often forget to take care of their mental and emotional health as well. No matter what, you should always try to prioritize your health and wellbeing over any grade.
Additionally, your grades do not define you! Even if you want high grades to get into law school or into a master’s program, you are more valuable and important than your grades. You are more than a percentage, more than a letter, and you are smart and worth the world, no matter whether your grade is 100%, 0%, or anything in between!
Be sure to get enough sleep every night and take naps if you need to! When possible try to avoid cramming for your exam the night before you need to write it or staying up all night to perfect the concluding sentence of your essay. A lack of sleep can cause you to be more susceptible to stress and negative emotions and can hamper your ability to pay attention and learn. To combat this, try to set a bed time that works for you and set a time limit for your homework. For example, say you will work on your essay until 10 pm and then stop. When 10 pm rolls along, no matter what position your essay is in, start your bedtime routine and go to bed. This can be hard to do at the beginning as you might feel like you should continue working on it, but it will be worth it in the morning when you’re feeling refreshed. You can continue working on the essay the next day feeling much better!
Organizing your school work and extra-curricular activities will help alleviate the stresses of cramming and the worry that you’re going to miss an assignment. Take a calendar and write out all your due dates and make a plan on when you will complete your assignments. Doing this will help you avoid cramming for an exam the night before you need to write it, as you will know about it months in advance. As a bonus tip, while planning out your assignments, try to break up your work into small and manageable chunks. For example, instead of completing an essay in one or two days, try to aim to do a quarter of the essay one day, a quarter the next, and so on. This helps you ease into an assignment instead of stressing about finishing it all in one go. This can help improve both your mental health by alleviating stress and improve your grades by making your work more thought-out and less rushed.
You’re Not Alone
Stressed about your grades and your future? Talk to UVIC’s academic counsellors! They are very understanding of the academic stresses and anxieties faced by students and are happy to help you make a plan to achieve your goals. Making an active plan with them as to what you can do after your bachelor’s, and what to do during your bachelor’s, can help reduce the stresses of feeling lost as to your future.
Additionally, talk to your friends and classmates about your academic stresses. Although stress can make us feel like we’re alone, that our issues are small and that we would just bother someone if we talked about them, this is completely untrue. Your classmates and friends are more than likely facing similar, if not the same, anxieties and talking it out with each other could help both of you. It will help to get things off your chest and you could share tips and plans with each other to reduce stress.
100% Attendance isn’t a Must
It is more than okay to take a day off of classes to focus on your mental health. For example, If Wednesday was a rough day or you just wake up on Thursday feeling extra anxious, you can stay home and relax to replenish your mental health by doing activities suited for you. These activities can be doing arts and crafts, going to the mall with friends, staying in bed binging Netflix, it is whatever relaxes and recharges you! This can help ensure that your mental health stays in good shape and will allow you to feel good-to-go the next day. Just make sure to check BrightSpaces the next day to catch-up on any work you may have missed.
Perfection is a Scam
Always do your best but don’t be disappointed if you get a grade lower than 100. Not everything in life needs to perfect and most things aren’t. To use a baseball analogy, not every hit needs to a home-run, sometimes you just have to get on-base. This is especially salient if you are having a tough mental health day/week. Sometimes it is great to just complete an assignment. An assignment not being perfect is part of life, it is human to learn and grow. Feedback is not a negative reflection on you and is definitely not something to be ashamed of. It is a learning experience and allows you to grow both as a student and person. Your professor, who has spent a while researching and writing essays, is not perfect and makes mistakes and did not ace every single exam and essay they had. They learned and grew to the position they are in now. Even if an essay or exam just kicked your butt, you too will learn, grow, and be successful!
This is a cliché but it has helped me a lot – be sure to eat well and stay hydrated. Now, eating well does not mean staying away from sugar nor does it mean eating a salad for every meal – I would recommend eating as much chocolate as you feel you need to survive the day. Eating well, to me, means eating snacks throughout the day and being conscious of my food decisions. Snacks, such as a banana or a chocolate-chip granola bar, helps boost my energy and make me feel better throughout the day. For bigger meals I am always conscious of what I eat and how it affects my mood. For me, I try to avoid having a big heavy dish for every meal of the day. I would find that during my first year when I would go to the cafeteria and eat a grilled cheese for breakfast, fried chicken strips for lunch, and a beef dip for dinner, I would feel very sluggish and unmotivated. This hurt both my grades and my mental-health. But, now I eat lighter and try to have some vegetables in my meals which has improved my personal mental health. I’m not saying to never eat heavy or greasy meals, but just be conscious about how it makes you feel and about how often you eat them.
I hope these tips are able to help everyone who reads them. These are just my personal tricks and they might not work for you, but keep them in mind, modify them if you need to, and take care of yourself!
The views expressed in this blog are my own, and do not necessarily reflect the policies or views of the University of Victoria. I monitor posts and comments to ensure all content complies with the University of Victoria Guidelines on Blogging.