Wellness Refocused Education

5 Things That Helped This Semester

Reading Time: 4 minutes

To say I’m feeling relieved after finishing my second semester is an understatement. I’m happy that I have no more math-based courses in my future, and that is part of my relief. I like the process of math, and the application of data to programming, but I didn’t enjoy calculating statistics and learning software codes. I have no problem leaving that in 2022.

Four classes down, two in the upcoming semester and 13 left in total + 200 field hours. Typing it out makes it sound like a lot, but I know it will go by pretty damn fast, especially taking two classes a semester. And in January, I’m going to start prepping for field hours for January 2024.

This wasn’t the only thing on my plate. I’m also about four months into my new job. I have all of the feelings about it. This is where I’ve always wanted to be, and so far, I’ve been validated that I’ve taken the right step forward and will have opportunities to continue to learn and grow. I do also get nervous about it too. My self-doubt sneaks in and makes me question myself. It sucks, but surprisingly, I’m becoming more ok about it. I’m at least able to recognize when those thoughts are coming.

This post is to share about what I did this fall that helped me do a little more than survive meshing graduate school full-time and working full-time. It wasn’t perfect, and there are areas I want to improve in the upcoming year. But here are five things I did to get into a new routine this fall.

First, I made a schedule that worked for me and included a break during the day.

Since I work remotely and have flexibility, I set a work schedule that fits me and supports the ways I’m productive. I work 6 to 10am and 1 to 5pm, which means I get a three-hour break in the middle of my day.

I use this time to go for a walk or go to the gym. For a few weeks, I took walks by the river to get out of the house since the weather was more reasonable. I’ve also been experimenting with cables and machines at the gym and trying to find a way to be active without a deadline and with a full schedule. Really, just focusing on making it fun again.

I also use the break to go to the doctor or run some errands. And yes, I’ve used it for schoolwork and chores too.

For me, the most important part is getting a break and stepping away from my computer, email and office as a whole. I also don’t let myself eat at my computer, which is something you may be able to do even if you’re not working remotely.

Second, when planning my schedule, I tried to not overwhelm myself with too much in a day.

In the summer, I took both of my classes on Mondays, and that meant a really long day. If I can help it, I’m focusing on taking classes on different days. I noticed a difference this semester doing this. I also don’t allow too many meetings in a day on my schedule. My position does let me set this boundary and I know not everyone can, but I have a designated time block each day for meetings – typically in the afternoon. This gives me a chance to have quiet time and get things done in the morning.

Third, I leaned into tools that I know work for me to be organized that I’ve used in different situations and worked on losing labels (again).

I love my calendar shocker. It helps me stay on track for things with a deadline. I made sure schoolwork was planned and plugged into my calendar. It helped me distribute course work throughout the week, and I could see the holes in my schedule. This also helped me do things that weren’t work or school related too.

Losing labels meant letting tools be just that, something that can be helpful in a situation. Like meal prepping. It didn’t have to be about eating perfectly or losing weight, but just needing consistency in eating. I did that for half my breakfasts and all my lunches most weeks. Meal prepping is a tool that I come and go with. It was obviously helpful when I competed, when the gym was almost all of my life, when I was working out of house, and now it’s just a time and money saver.

I lean into easy snacks and meals too. I noticed that I wasn’t eating fruits and veggies fast enough and they were going bad. Incorporating frozen and canned fruits and veggies have been helpful. Like I would suggest with any food, read labels and when appropriate, rinse off sugar or salt solutions. I’ve also been adding more pre-made, bagged salads just for ease. There were a few weeks I probably ate more chicken tenders and fries than I’d like, but it also prevented me from grazing more in the evening.

Fourth, I made sure there were priorities not related to work or school like Sunday movie night with my boyfriend.

This was partly his idea. And I’m glad it was because it’s nice watching a show together even over Zoom. We watched House of Dragons this fall and have made some interesting movie selections.

Fifth, I tried to take time for me to just be, or just read, or relax on the couch or connect with friends.

It can be hard to turn my brain off. If I’m stressed, sometimes it’s easier to just keep going and ignoring thoughts. I also will lose track of time. But in effort to be better about this, I took more walks outside than on my treadmill, watched a little bit more TV and didn’t get into too much deep thought, and leaned into audiobooks because reading real books, while my preferred method, is challenging right now.

There were times that I felt like I was failing. There were times I felt exhausted and didn’t get in as much movement as I wanted to. Or like I said, ate way more chicken tenders in a week than expected. I did find things that worked and I have some ideas to make things better in the next semester and in this month off between. I’m hopeful that things are finally settling and I’m getting to a place where I am more confident in my consistency and actually living.