I’m not writing this as a ‘this is what you should do’, its more ‘this is what worked for me, I hope you can take a few tips or just enjoy reading.
Firstly, I haven’t always been able to balance these 3 aspects of my life. I was very unwell while in high school, therefore did not balance education with mental illness very well. Right now, I feel I have a very good balance of education, working and battling mental health. For those who don’t know, I am a full time online student studying a bachelor’s degree, I also work 2 days a week as a barista.
My main advice, and what I rely heavily upon is organising! This is easy for me, as I love my plans to be organised well in advanced, lists lists lists! I start by writing a huge list of everything that needs to be done within a time phrase (usually I plan a month ahead, so write now I have completed January’s list). Once I have the list, I prioritise all things that have a deadline. I bring the deadline a week forward in my plans (I make myself believe they are genuinely due a week before) so if something does go wrong, I have extra time. Everything that doesn’t have a deadline, just gets put on a ‘to do’ list, this makes no pressure, but ensures I know what needs doing. I find lists powerful, and usually never have anything left on them at the end of the month, but if I did, I would just write it in the next months. Lists are most useful for my degree, as it ensures all the work needed for deadlines is complete. As I don’t plan each day I will complete things on my to do list, it makes working as a barista a lot less stressful for me, as I know I don’t have to rush anything when I get home from a shift. I don’t work set shifts, I just receive a rota every 4 weeks. Being a week ahead at my degree makes me flexible at work, this makes me available to work any days, and able to cover if anyone’s ill.
Secondly, I’ve also learnt to say no. I know working more than 2 days a week would be too overwhelming for me, so I have specified I can only do 2 shifts a week, as work knew this when I started,it has never been a problem. If extra shifts need doing, or covering, I weigh my options and only say yes when I feel like its a good idea. I’m quite a push over, so learning to say no is very hard for me. But it’s important,and I’ve been doing it more often!
As I only work 2 days, and am always at least a week ahead at university, I can ensure I take a mental heath day if needed. If I am really struggling, I have given myself the option to be take a day off, and just focus on myself. Being in control of these 3 large aspects of my life means I always get enough sleep. Not only because I make the time, but because I’m not overly stressed as I know things are in control!
This balance works well for me. I am a very productive person and I thrive of that! I am proud to have created this lifestyle for myself. I thought it was impossible to do a degree without stress, but it’s possible! I am happy where I am in life. I can see a future, and that’s very important for someone who struggles with suicidal ideation. Thank you for reading!