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Healthy Minds Healthy College

Balancing Act

September 9, 2014


Faye Armstrong is a life coach based in Winnipeg who is passionate about living life to the fullest and helping others do the same. For a little motivation or to learn more about personal coaching, visit

Before I started the Creative Communications program at Red River College, I asked for advice from some friends who had taken the course before me. I got three gems of wisdom: don’t hand in your assignments late, quit your part time job and dump your boyfriend. I managed to handle the first one (for the most part) but I took the other two with a grain of salt and figured, I’ve got this.

I mean, was I really going to be that busy with school that those other areas of my life would suffer? The short answer is yes, I was. Balancing classes, assignments, friends, the boyfriend, work and life in general was a bit of a challenge.

As a life coach, a lot of my clients struggle with achieving balance in the busyness of life. Whether it’s school-life balance or work-life balance, it can be tough to find that happy place between getting stuff done and still enjoying life while you’re at it. And to be honest, there’s no magic formula, but there are a few things you can do to keep things in check.

1. Determine what balance means for you
Lately we hear so much about “finding balance”, it can start to lose meaning. Balance means different things to different people, so instead of making “balance” your goal, figure out exactly what you want to feel and experience in your life. Do you want to have more fun? Do you want more passion? To feel more accomplished? Like a good friend? More spiritually connected? Identify the feelings that translate to what your vision of happiness is, and then find ways to experience those feelings each day- even if it’s in a small way.

2. Schedule time for yourself
Make yourself a priority. Just like you would schedule time to finish an assignment, catch up with a friend or pick up a shift at work, set a specific time for you to recharge. To use a bit of a strange analogy but one that works nonetheless, think about why flight attendants always tell you to put the oxygen mask on yourself before you go helping the people around you.

Self-care is an important part of reaching your goals. If you want to be a better student, employee, friend — whatever it is that you want to be — if you don’t take care of yourself and spread yourself too thin, you end up doing a disservice to yourself and those around you by not being able to give your best.

3. Assess and re-assess
Chances are, there isn’t going to be one set schedule that you can come up with that will forever help you achieve perfect balance in your life. It’s good to have a routine, but there are going to be days when your friend really needs you to be there, when you need to lock yourself in a room and get into major homework mode, or when you need to take a time-out for yourself. Know what your priorities are and realize that those priorities might shift and flux as life tends to.

Also keep in mind that as you move through different phases of your life, your priorities will probably change too. Balance isn’t so much a destination to work towards, as it is a state of being, and it takes work to stay in that state. Check in with yourself every once in awhile to re-evaluate your priorities and how you’re doing in keeping your life aligned with those.

College is all about learning — some of it inside the classroom, and some of it through the life experiences you will have throughout your time here. Consider the hectic schedules, friend drama, heartbreak, excitement and everything else you have on the go as a crash-course in learning the fine art of life balance. And when all else fails, take a deep breath and remember: you’ve got this.