I’ve been out of high school for a while and recently started going to college. I’ve also been working for the past three years. Lately I’ve felt kind of drained and exhausted – mentally and physically. I think it could just be my job, but I think I may need a real change in my life. What do you think?
Lost and in economic turmoil
I think you’ve already made a real change in your life. Starting college is extremely traumatic to your health. It’s taxing on all levels, which is a reason that many many freshman fail miserably in their first year.
In your case, it’s got to be even harder because of the break you took after high school. A big reason our high school guidance counselors push us to go to college right after school is because if we don’t go then, it’s likely that we will never go. You deserve some credit for proving them wrong, but now you’re suffering.
It’s hard to adjust after being out in the working world for a while. The new responsibilities that come with school clash with your old lifestyle. Wrapping your head around all the new people and ideas that are flying at you is also very difficult when you probably aren’t used to being in an academic setting.
Take a look at your life, the way it is right now. How much are you working or studying? How much time do you have for your friends? Do you have time for yourself?
When you’ve answered all these questions, decide what you’re happy with and what you’re unhappy with. It’s likely that between work, school and maintaining a social life, the only time you have alone is when you’re sleeping. This is fine for short amounts of time, but alone time is crucial to maintaining your sanity. Try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day for “me” time. During this time, do your best not to worry or stress. Don’t do anything but chill.
Also, make sure you’re getting enough sleep. Most college students get less than the required amount to function. Grabbing six hours a night on the weekdays and 12 on the weekends is not a good sleeping schedule. Too much or too little sleep will turn you into a zombie. If eight hours a night is impossible, try for seven. Even though it’s not likely you’ll want to go to bed at 10 p.m. or wake up at 6 a.m., be sure to keep your bedtime and wake time as regular as you can.
You might also want to look at your diet. If you’re surviving on nachos and pizza or forgetting to eat altogether, then you’re headed for some serious problems. Eating is a pain when you’ve got a busy schedule, and eating well is even harder. But if you want to maintain your GPA and continue getting a paycheck, you really need to watch what you’re putting in your stomach. Bring an apple to school or grab something substantial during a break between classes. Coffee and cigarettes do not count as a meal.
You won’t be able to always do everything perfect, but making an effort will help ease the pain. As time goes by you’ll adjust to your own schedule and things will ease up. The first semester is always the hardest, but keep with it. Welcome to college.
L.C. can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.