Healthy Living Messages

Mental Sustainability

September 12, 2018

When it comes to sustainable living, the first thing that comes to mind is probably reusable straws and planting trees. Or something along those lines. Green living goes in an out of fashion, as the human mind goes back and forth between good and bad habits.

As the school year is starting, we are all readjusting to academic life. Maybe that means going to school, going back to work, sending our kids off to school, or even just the change of seasons. The summer is over, winter is coming (overused GoT reference intended ironically) and – let’s face it – we’re all going to be watching more Netflix than we should, drinking more coffee than water, and doing our best not to have a mental breakdown.

In all seriousness, the first few weeks of September are especially stressful. Tuition and textbooks drain our bank accounts, whether it’s our own cost or for our kids. We are torn between the start of school parties and trying to start off with good study habits. Sleeping or lecture? Netflix or readings? Packing healthy lunches and snacks, and taking care of ourselves after a long day at work.

With the pressure of doing well, having a social life, taking care of a child, sleeping enough, paying for books, tuition and coffee, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In this transition period, it’s important to develop sustainable mental habits that will get you through the entire school year.

Personally, I’m a sucker for buying nice planners, and notebooks. I set my standards ridiculously high in September. I promise myself I’ll cancel my Netflix account, and keep every assignment marked diligently in my overpriced planner from Chapters. I’ll hand things in early, be on time, never skip a class because I want to sleep in…

Sounds like a load of BS right? There’s nothing wrong with having high standards, and setting goals for yourself, but the problem with what I just told you is that these habits are not sustainable. If I were to hold myself to that for an entire year, I’d go crazy.

The trick is to find a balance between what is realistic, and pushing yourself to do your best. It’s a fine line between going easy on yourself and slacking off, between challenging yourself, and overworking yourself to exhaustion.

So this September, try to find that balance. Find habits that are sustainable for you. It will look different for everyone.

Students, maybe the girl sitting next to you in your lecture has perfect handwriting and colour coded notes, but that doesn’t mean that you need five colours of highlighter to do well.

Parents, maybe there’s that crazy overachiever mom who manages to go to every PTA meeting, coach the volleyball team and bake cookies for the entire class, but that’s not who you have to be to be a good parent.

No one can sustain this level of functioning forever.

And honestly, who knows what goes on behind the scenes?

I’ve learned that it’s best not to compare myself to anyone else, and focus on what works for me. I remember hearing once that comparison is the thief of happiness, and in my experience, I really believe that it’s true.

Maybe you need to take more breaks in your studying to keep your focus. Maybe it’s okay to wake up feeling like crap and decide to take a little extra sleep. If you’re feeling stressed, recognized that you’re feeling stressed instead of burying yourself further in work, or procrastinating to the last-minute.

It’s easy to fall to one extreme or the other. There can be a lot of pressure from your peers to pull all nighters, whether it’s to study for an exam, or for a party. But finding a balance will help you more in the long term. That’s what sustainability is about.

It’s not easy; if it was, we would all be doing it. But if we were all doing it, we would be so much better off.

May September bring you strength, balance, and sustainable practices.

Series written by Chantal Delaquis

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