My Work-Student-Life Balance

I don’t have much of a social life, and most of my time is spent on work or assignments, but I do strongly believe in a balanced life.  My concentration is not of such caliber that I can become entirely focused on work, to the exclusion of all else. More importantly, I think an imbalance in life leads to misery.

I have done quite a bit of describing my responsibilities, in volunteering, work, and grad school, but aside from a few casual hints, I have never really brought up what I do to stay sane (definition of “sane” being relative, of course).

Some of my favorite “balancing” activities:

1. Soccer – I tried out for the intramural soccer team this year, and made it onto the Division 1 team! The season is short, only five games and a tournament, but even so, it has provided me with invaluable experiences and relaxation. For the time it takes me to get to, play, and get home from soccer games, I have a commitment, that has nothing to do with school or work. I can put away the guilt, the worries, the stress, for those two hours every week, and just enjoy playing. Not only that, but there is so much literature out there in the world about the beneficial mental side effects of physical exercise. I believe it.

3. Reading – This is something nothing will ever take away from me. I read like I am addicted to it. Although I have less time for reading now than I did as a child (surprise!), I still spend some time every day reading for pleasure. You might ask, why do I read for pleasure when I do so much reading for school and work? I don’t have a concrete answer for that, except to say that it is different.

4. Dinner with friends – This doesn’t happen as often as I would wish it to, but the dinners my good friend and amazing cook makes for me, and the conversations we have over the food and after, are some of the best evenings I have had since I started grad school in a new city.

5. Swimming – Challenging as it is, the half hour I spend in the pool with two of my good friends is one of the most relaxing half hours of the week. Not quite a commitment, the benefit comes from the exercise, the endorphins, the chats in the locker room, and somehow, the pool itself.

6. Exploring – Again, I don’t get to this as often as I would like. Having been in Toronto for just over a year, I want to get to know it as well as I can. All the different neighborhoods and cultures, the festivals, the coffee shops…

7. Cleaning – Still doesn’t qualify as relaxing, but it makes a positive difference in my ability to focus at home, when I do it regularly.

What do you do to balance work and fun/relaxation?

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2 thoughts on “My Work-Student-Life Balance

  1. The eternal quest for balance! I do many of the same things you do (swimming, pleasure reading, cleaning, dinner with friends, but substitute floor hockey for soccer). I also make some time almost every day to spend with my husband…usually we watch an episode of a tv show (currently season 4 of 30 Rock) and give each other foot massages (is that too much information?). As little mini-breaks throughout the day, I read various blogs and spend far too much time on facebook…and I SHOULD write for my own blog, but that seems to have fallen by the wayside…

    Mostly, I try to remember to laugh sometimes and realize that it’s just as important to have some fun as to do everything perfectly.

    Thanks for sharing!

    • Val, it’s delightful to read about your own balancing activities! I feel ambiguous about those mini-breaks myself (“Facebook breaks,” as I call them) – I think my attention span requires them, but on the other hand I’d rather work consistently and well for a few hours and then maximize my break time… My crystal ball tells me I won’t be changing my habits anytime soon.

      After tonight, I’ve realized I need to add another to the list: Baking (and eating baked goods!). Tonight I made a light chocolate cake, and it was entirely soothing.

      Your last comment is a gem. I agree, and I like to remind myself about putting things in perspective, by which I mean the same thing.

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