I remember the first couple of weeks of my first semester, being bombarded with a constant stream of assignments and homework, moving from class to class and defining the start of my week by the day on which I hand in the homework.
Towards the middle of the semester I felt I had to find a way to maintain my sanity in the chaotic and frantic pace of the classroom, the need to manage stress was highlighted when a study was presented on the havoc of chronic stress on the body, where women of African American descent consistently gave birth to premature low birth weight babies due to the internalization of the stress.
Based on my experience it feels like having one or more regular activities beyond the classroom is the key in managing stress and finding balance. Thankfully the University provides ample opportunities and options. The numerous student clubs devoted to a particular cause, the daily events bar on the homepage of the university provides a link to all the events and lectures happening on the campus, workshops by Rackham or the International Center are some of the resources. With three different recreational centers and several fun classes to choose from devoting time to one’s physical wellbeing and to stay stress free becomes easy. If sticking to a weekly commitment for the U-Move classes scares you I personally feel that the drop in fee of $7/class works out cheaper. I would recommend the swimming classes especially if taught by Nancy – she is simply the best instructor. Taking up a locker for the entire semester is a very good idea – you then get to store your toiletries and get fresh clean towels to use, you could even split the costs of a locker with a friend given that most of them have combination locks.
I myself found means to balancing my life through various activities on campus. Attending services in the student parish church on campus gave me a sense of belonging to a community and a sanctuary to reflect and reinvigorate. A semester of kickboxing in the U-Move classes provided an arena to kick my problems and my monsters – there is truly something good about punching something!
I have known some of my friends to find solace in taking an art class and learning the intricacies of creating a beautiful piece of jewelry, some have played a game of badminton twice a week, some including me find a sense of reassurance in going to the open house in the planetarium and staring at the sky through the telescope – looking at the rings of Saturn or the craters of the moon casts a spell of awe and reminds me that the problems in life are minuscule.
About a year ago I accidentally got introduced to the student Argentine tango club at the university that completely got me hooked to spending every Wednesday evening in learning and excelling at something on the dance floor – we were recently being reminded about finding the perfect balance in carrying out the turns and crosses by engaging the core muscles.
It got me to think that ultimately what matters is inner well being of our core in finding balance. We need to create a sanctuary either through an activity or a community or volunteering to revive and reboot our inner self. I have found mine, good luck in finding yours!