As a student athlete it’s definitely a balancing act to have so many things on the go: work, school, athletics, not to mention a social life! A day in my life is usually pretty busy! Over the years I’ve found a winning formula for making all these parts of my life fit together. Here are 8 tips for balancing a jam-packed lifestyle:
1. Bring food with you EVERYWHERE
Sundays are my day off from training and school, giving me time to prepare for the week ahead. I’ll often set aside 3 hours to meal prep so that I have healthy food for the week. Each day that I leave my house I pack a cooler full of food for lunch, dinner, and snacks to avoid getting hangry as I’m rushing between class and training sessions.
2. Take the time to plan
I use Google Calendar to schedule my training sessions, classes, and work times. I only have little slots of time to study and do other miscellaneous tasks so I’ll often schedule in study blocks to ensure that I make time for my schoolwork. I also schedule “me time” to do something relaxing like hang out with my friends or do yoga, this is extremely important to help me stay grounded.
3. Choose quality over quantity
My days are jam packed with 6 hours of training, and the rest of my time is spent on recovering, classes, studying, and working (because the bills won’t pay themselves!). I have a lot going on and lots of requests to engage in social events and other activities, but I have to prioritize what is most important to help me be a successful athlete and student. This means trying to be efficient and managing how much I’m driving and socializing each day. I’ve had to get good at practicing the art of say “no."
4. Minimize your social media and email time
I love Snapchat and Instagram—they are my go to social media platforms—but I sometimes find myself wasting more than an hour a day on these apps. I try to save my social media consumption times for when I’m in waiting rooms for my physio or chiropractor or the few minutes I have before or after class.
5. Get a good night’s sleep
Sleep is crucial to my success during the day! If I don’t get a full 8 hours of sleep the night before I find myself struggling to complete all of my tasks in the day. I use breathing exercises before I go to sleep to let go of my worries and get a good night’s sleep.
6. Set goals
I’m a major goal setter: I set a goal for each day, week, month, and year. I set really easy goals, like: “drink 5 glasses of water” and massive goals like: “become an Olympian.” These ambitions keep me motivated to push through the gritty parts of my life (like accounting class) and bring me to purpose moments like winning medals! Remember: mastery of your goals is doing the things you love on the days you don't feel like doing them.
7. Take naps
With so much on the go it’s important to take time to rest once in awhile, so I’m basically a power napper. I nap everywhere: in busy hallways at school, on the side of the river before training, and in my car between classes. My university actually just got a napping room, which has made a big difference in my energy levels for training sessions. Never underestimate the power of a twenty-minute power nap!
8. Celebrate in the small successes
I’m not gonna lie, trying to balance being an athlete and a student isn’t easy, but reflecting on my accomplishments to date helps me to stay motivated to continue on my chosen path. I park about a 15 minute walk from my university so that I don't need to pay for parking, and I use this walk from school to debrief my day and figure out what went well and what needs some improvement.
It’s true, being a student athlete comes with a unique set of challenges. Sure, I’ve always got a lot going on, but I know that my busy lifestyle is worth it in the long run. It’s important to remember on those days when you’re starting to feel a bit overwhelmed that you can turn to your support team to help you through, like your coaches, professors, teachers, parents, friends, and teammates.
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