When one has a lot on his mind, university- or jobwise, it can be easy to forget one’s most important asset – oneself.
At the moment I am working hard to finish my studies in the next 3 months. I get through my days, trying to balance studies, organizational things, work, fitness, health and household. That’s not as easy as it sounds ;). But as I am determined to fit everything is, my credo, most of the days is you can do it, you only have to have the discipline.
Normally, I am a great advocate of self-discipline. I firmly belief that the ability to show discipline is important in both the personal and the working area of life. Success of the mind, the body, the career don’t come overnight and one has to show commitment to reach any significant stage.
However, I do also believe that self-care is crucial. You cannot dig through it, always trucking on, never taking care of your own needs.
Sure, it can be argued that taking care of one’s fitness and health is already a right step in the direction of self-care and I’d agree with that. But there is more to it and to balance what you demand of your body and soul and what you give to it should be a priority.
Why is balance important?
Your brain is a muscle. If you strain it for some time, it is time well spent as you can improve your concentration, you will get more intelligent, you exercise your will power. But as with all other muscle groups, the brain too needs its recovery time. Anyone, who ever concerned himself with fitness knows that you don’t do chest-day everyday, every hour, every minute. Similarily, you don’t do brain-time every minute. Read something relaxing. Take a bath. Listen to wave sounds. Meditate. There are a million ways to give the brain its fair share of rest.
There is of course also the question of the quality of your work. Sure, you can probably go for 3 or 4 days without sleep, writing your paper, finishing that project. But will you be happy with the outcome? Ask yourself this: Is it more important that the project is finished today? Or is it more important that the project is finished well? If you only have intrinsic deadlines, be aware of whether the stress is real or fabricated just by yourself!
It is no wonder that burn-out and depression are common diseases of the mind nowadays. It doesn’t matter how strong you are, or how disciplined you want to appear, you will need to be honest with yourself. Sleep enough. Drink enough water. Get your vitamines. Yes, they are small steps, but they are important as it is with the small steps that we reach our goals.
How can I make sure I balance my life?
Listen to your body. I’m not joking. Sure, we are still young, we can go on for some time like this, but at what cost? I cannot stress this enough – search for warning signals your body is sending you. Are you feeling repeatedly tired? Do you realize that you snap at people without any apparent reason? Could you cry at little inconveniences? Guess what – That’s your body telling you something. No, this is not an excuse to be lazy and not focused, but balance isn’t a myth and it’s doable!
Quick tricks on keeping self-discipline up
- Write down your goals – the date when you want to have it finished included.
- Make reasonable, weekly, task lists.
- Track your progress – it prevents feeling like having done nothing on productive days, and the trap of feeling productive, just because you attended to 20 mini tasks.
Quick tricks on calming the mind and body
- A conscious cup of coffee or tea.
- No-phone/ No-computer time after 22h.
- Start journaling
- No-thinking time. Put on meditating music, calming sounds and look at a blank wall. (I’m not crazy, that really helps!)
- SLEEP! ENOUGH!
Self-discipline and self-care both are important. You cannot reach high ambitions in life, if you neglect either. But a balance of the two is the most essential. True, there are stressy times, and sometimes you’ll definitely have to muster up more discipline and commitment than at other times to finish your tasks – but your mind cannot work well if you are overwrought and the results will suffer.
It’s in the little things. Take a day off, take 2 hours every evening off, but take care of yourself and you will find that discipline too is much easier to handle and stick too, if your body supports your lifestyle on the long run!