Blog Column: 

Welcome back to UMass, folks! The last time I wrote you, I was doing the stereotypical exam pep-talk. Now I’m going to suggest that you take some time to chill out. This is the end of the add-drop period, so do some serious thinking about your workload now! Don’t go overboard like I used to.

I have been a workaholic for all of my life. I kid you not. Some of my earliest memories from elementary school were my music teachers telling me to be less hard on myself. Everyone from my parents to my karate instructor have told me to chill out and it has only recently sunk in that doing so is a physical necessity.

The thing is, I love academics and the other things I do, but I found out the hard way that dedicating yourself to endless burdens is unhealthy. Actually, it’s downright suicide if you go too far.

I mean it.
It can kill you.

When I kept overloading myself, things got pretty bad. I started breaking down both emotionally and physically and I finally learned to turn it down a notch. Problem is, I should’ve turned it down three. My parents actually had to sit me down at one point and tell me to take it easy. “If you keep this up, you’ll go through your life with blinders on,” they said. “When’s the last time you just hung out with a friend or read a book for the hell of it?” At that point, I didn’t want to admit that it had been months.

The fact is that I had to actually learn how to relax. Relaxing while keeping up with work and maintaining my sanity turned out to be as much of a skill as anything else I’ve learned.

In short, you need to learn how to balance yourself.

- Know Your Limits: I know this sounds kind of pithy, but you should understand that your total capacity for work is far different from the level you should be working at consistently.

- Make a Schedule that Includes Resting: Yes, you need specific times when you can rest. You rest when you need it, but you also need to keep a work regimen in motion.

- Don’t Goof Off During the Week: If there’s one thing I’ve learned from rushing frats here it’s that you should spend every waking moment during the week doing homework until you are done. That way, your weekend is totally free for whatever shenanigans you get up to. Besides, how often do you really hang out with your friends during the week? Come on. You’ll see them later.

Maybe this was helpful to you, maybe it wasn’t. I’ve learned that it takes a personal experience to change someone’s mind about their habits, but perhaps this can point some of you in the right direction. Hard work is great, but only if you can enjoy it and reap the benefits you desire.

Have a great week! Work hard; play hard!

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