As veterans we have a unique perspective on college. Most of us do not view it as a mandatory extension of high school, or as a series of classes we need to sit through so we can simply get a degree and party in the process. We have been trained to work as hard as possible for extended periods of time, and we generally have an incredible appreciation for the chance to go to college.
Having said that, it is important to step back and enjoy some down time in the process. Tutor team coordinator at Bridgewater State University and former academic coach David Oliveira discusses the importance of down time. “Downtime is a central component for any student’s health and ranks with eating and sleeping,” he says.
“It is important for students to remember that they are humans receiving an education, not robots designed to work whenever they’re on. Students that work constantly may even grow to resent their educational institution or education itself due to burnout. It has been my experience that the most successful students learn to balance downtime with school work to lead happy, healthy lives.”
What does this mean?
This means it is important to step back every once in a while and take care of yourself. This does not mean blow off work, school and other responsibilities to party. Try to give yourself at least one day a week for a “weekend,” even if it falls on a normal work day. Down time is important for many reasons. First, it will prevent you from burning out. This is not a quick-training mission, or even a deployment.
School will last years, and your career will last even longer. Ensuring that you have time to yourself will prevent you from becoming overwhelmed. Down time also clears your mind. Sometimes a step away and a clear mind is all that is needed to handle a problem or situation. It gives you an opportunity to take care of your mind. We have so many demands on us as students, employees, parents, etc. This time is for YOU.
How do I find the time?
Try to build it into your schedule ahead of time. We do not suggest heading into a semester with a full schedule and simply trying to find the time later. If you find yourself in a schedule with no time to take for yourself, then consider taking fewer classes next semester.
What should I do with my down time?
Anything that makes you smile! For some people this means doing charitable work. For me it means snowboarding. For others it means a quiet room and an Xbox, and many others chose the gym. Whatever allows you to separate from classes, work and other responsibilities is good. Remember to be cautious of alcohol. Try to find something you love other than simply drinking.
What are some of the rewards?
A clear mind, less stress, relaxation and a higher tolerance for stressful work are some of the things that some time off will give you. These will help you maintain longevity at school and work. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we cannot perform our duties or take care of others.