Love, Advice

ASK SAMAA: How do I balance my school work and mental health?

You are a human, not a robot. Remember to prioritize your mental and physical health over everything else.

Hey, Samaa,

I consider myself a pretty chill person, but this semester I have a ton of new responsibilities and I’m worried about being able to handle it all.  What I can I do to avoid stress?


Busy Bee


Hey, Busy Bee!

With new responsibilities come new opportunities, so congrats! The greatest way to combat stress is to pre-empt it by being extra prepared.

1. Set up a really thorough and comprehensive Google calendar with all of your fixed responsibilities, meetings, classes, etc. See how busy you are each day, and know in advance which days will be the busiest. Plan your week accordingly. Share your Google calendar with your friends and family, so that they know what you’re up to and won’t feel bad if you can’t spend as much time with them. It’ll also be easier for them to schedule time to spend with you.

[bctt tweet=”Use the 8/8/8 principle to keep your mental health and your work life on track.”]

2. Use the 8/8/8 principle to guide your day. Think of your “busy” time as a 9-5 job. Try not to spend more than 8 hours on “work,” which may include school, extracurricular activities, meetings. That way, you have 16 hours left of your day: 8 for sleep (don’t compromise on this!), and 8 for self-care. That includes includes time for food, running errands, socializing, getting dressed and staying clean — this one sometimes falls to the wayside when we’re busy. If you end up going over 8 hours for work, try to readjust or reallocate your time over the course of the week so that each day stays balanced.

3. Try to start your days earlier, rather than ending them later. Schedule most of your work for the morning. Recent studies have indicated that we are most productive in the first two hours after we wake up. The moral of the story is work smarter, not harder!

4. TURN OFF YOUR LAPTOP, DON’T CHECK YOUR EMAIL, AND DON’T SCHEDULE ANYTHING AFTER 8 P.M. This time is for you to decompress, reflect, and relax. Exposure to smartphone screens can actually delay your sleep time and make it more difficult for you to fall and stay asleep.

5. Remember to eat well. Your body needs fuel to run. You can’t perform at your best if your proverbial tank is on empty!

[bctt tweet=”Turn off your laptop, don’t check your email, and don’t schedule anything for after 8 p.m.”]

6. Set goals for yourself in each domain or activity that you are participating in. Set up periodical check-ins to ensure that you stay on track. However, once you have achieved that goal, move on. There is no point in pushing something that does not need to be pushed any more. This also applies for work — unless your extra effort is resulting in something tangible, useful, or essential, be happy with “good enough.”

7. Ask for help when you need it. You are a human, not a robot. Remember to prioritize your mental and physical health over everything else, because that’s the only thing that really matters. All the accolades and titles in the world don’t mean anything if you are not in a good space — emotionally, spiritually, or interpersonally.

Take care of yourself, girl!

Lots of love,


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