Between school, studying, assessment tasks, family, friends, chores, work, maintaining a social life, and getting enough exercise, there are a lot of things for young people to juggle each week. Life is a balancing act and young people have the difficult job of having to manage multiple tasks and roles each week. Winter can bring on added pressure. There are fewer daylight hours, resulting in many young people now needing to perform their chores in the dark. It can also seem as though there are not enough daylight hours to socialise with friends outside of school or engage in important self-care practices. Many people also feel more tired. This is because the reduced sun exposure can affect our circadian rhythm, causing our bodies to produce more melatonin, the result being that we feel sleepier.  

So, what happens when we are out of balance? Common impacts can include burnout, feeling stressed, low mood, loss of enjoyment, loss of motivation and increased lethargy. There is no one size fits all approach to restoring balance. Each person will have different needs depending on how they operate, and it is important for everyone to find what works best for them. Here are three useful tips for restoring balance and prioritising what is important to you.

  1. Create a list of what needs to be done (for example: assessments, chores, sleep, attending school), what you would like to get done (for example: social activities, sport). Reflect on the number of hours required for each of these activities.
  2. The next step is to reflect upon how you would like your week to look. There are 168 hours in a week. If you factor in sleep at approximately eight hours per day, time spent at school, travel time to and from school, and time to eat meals, you are likely to have approximately sixty hours per week to spare. Go back to your list created in step 1 and allocate hours to the things that you need to do and would like to do. If you get up to sixty hours and there are items remaining on your list, it is time to think about which activities matter the most.
  3. Use a planner, calendar or diary to write down your timetable. This will assist you to follow and stick to your routine. Set time limits to activities. Setting an alarm is a great way to remind you when it is time to stop. Speak to your family to determine what the expectations of you are at home. This will assist you to timetable chores and other family commitments. Work out what activities you can remove if you have a particularly busy week. And take breaks and be flexible. Some days you might feel tired or have more commitments than others and it is ok to modify your schedule to suit you.

Finding a balance between school and your personal life is essential to remaining happy and motivated. A good mix between free time and school time gives young people the opportunity to recharge after studying, engage in self-care activities, and enjoy time connecting with family and friends.

For parents and guardians wishing to refer your child to the school counselling service, you can speak to your child’s relevant head of school or assistant head of school to complete a referral form. Alternatively, you can contact either myself or Miss Brown and we will email you a referral form to complete and send back to us. If you have any questions about the referral process or what type of support is offered by the school counselling service, please do not hesitate to contact me directly.

Mrs Alex Dawson, SMGS School Counsellor