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Reflections: Be mindful of your work-life balance

After the last two and a half years of a pandemic, some of us have struggled to keep busy. Some people took on a new hobby or pastime during the beginning of quarantine to stave away boredom. Some people binged new shows and read books they’d been waiting ages to get time to read. Some completed new household projects, or took the time to purchase pets.

All the while, responsibilities like new jobs, clubs, and full experiences at school were sidelined. That was the last two and a half years, though. Most people–including Ohio University–would say the pandemic is over and, thus, we can return to our normal swing of things.

Each semester since the pandemic began has brought its own unique challenge to OU students. This semester, some may say the challenge is that trying to keep busy has finally caught up to us.

Maybe the handful of clubs you joined during OU’s online semesters are finally becoming too much to bear. Or, maybe handling 18 credit hours was easier online, but now you’re barely scraping by. Perhaps trying to jump-start your social life and find friends is taking a toll on school-work.

We’ve forgotten how busy normal, run of the mill parts of our lives are. Commuting to classes or work can consume an hour or so a day for some. With classes being in-person, stopping to chat with people you see eats up time. Even eating meals, something we were able to do while on a zoom lecture or an online club meeting, will contribute to taking up time. 

And, likely compounding all this is the productivity culture so many sociologists and psychologists have been speaking on lately. Perhaps there is a pervasive belief that we simply must make up for ‘lost time.’ OU students who have been deprived of multiple semesters of college may feel like they have to work overtime to make more money, catch up on credits, or join new clubs–still evaluating themselves by pre-pandemic standards. 

Or, stemming from productivity culture, is the guilt some people feel when they are not being productive. Students that sleep in, have an off-day, or don’t find themselves getting work done will agonize over their productivity and what it means for their grades. In reality, current students have much more on their plate now than they did a year ago.

Regardless of what it is, finding a balance this semester is difficult for many students, still grappling with what is ‘normal’ and what is negatively impacting their mental health. Trying to meet those pre-pandemic standards of productivity will only complicate the burgeoning stress and tension many are still trying to get out. 

With next semester rapidly approaching, students should be mindful of what their schedules look like–from classes, to work, to friends–so they can keep a firm hold on their stress levels. 

Colleen McLafferty is a junior studying history at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Colleen by tweeting her at @colleenbealem.

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