A visit to the UTS student acupuncture clinic the other week revealed that I’m a hyped-up ball of energy, running on a constant level of stress and disrupted sleep. “How would I rate my stress levels? Oh, I don’t know, I guess a seven or eight at best.” My answer was pretty honest, and one I couldn’t fault. But it was not the right answer. A stress level of “seven or eight at best” elicited a furled brow and a judgmental “righhht” from the medical student.
It seems the compulsion to overcommit, to pen too many activities into sacred schedules plagues many (if not all) students. We need to learn how to say ‘no’ when it’s in our best interest – and stand by it. Making time for yourself to stop and watch the world around you will help to prevent you burning out.
Saying no to your boss
You’ve been insulted, asked to wipe baby vomit from the floor (shuddering as a little bit touched your finger), and dropped your packed lunch – all in one wonderfully chaotic shift. Then your boss, smiling like the friggin’ Cheshire cat, asks you if you’d please cover another shift – or four – this week.
Don’t say ‘yes’ immediately. In fact, don’t say anything until you’ve had time to think. Do you realistically have the time for any more shifts? Have you slept at least twenty hours in the last three nights? Have you showered recently? If the answer to any of those questions is ‘no’, you should probably answer ‘no’ to your boss as well. No amount of money is worth more than your wellbeing.
Saying no to peer pressure
Some people can function perfectly after three consecutive nights out; others struggle to stay awake after 8:00 pm. You know whether you’re the latter or the former, and you need to remember this when your best mate invites you out for another pub crawl. There are some times when you just have to – very politely – decline. Or, in the event of a particularly appealing offer, prioritise and negotiate. Just as Ron Weasley knew that his dear friend Hermione needed to “sort out ‘er priorities!”, so should you recognise the best option for you. Next week works best because of that straight-from-hell law assessment? Say so. Don’t cave in just to make others happy. Your friends will love you all the same, regardless of which day you meet up.
Saying no to distractions
I’m loath to remind you, but you’ve got that degree thing to complete, which means lots and lots of assessments. Probably quite soon. Like, very likely, right now. You need to say a very forceful ‘no’ to everything that isn’t a basic human need and simply focus on getting yourself through these hellish assessments and exams alive and well. Reducing your distractions (be they nights out, movie marathons or social media) will only be temporary, and will eventually lead to the sweet satisfaction of passing your subjects.