Before B-School started I would come home after work and take my time making dinner, reading a book, or socializing with friends. Now the hours after work are filled with more work, usually involving lots of reading or calculations. The stressful demands from work, school, and your personal life can begin to have a negative effect if you’re unable to find balance. Here are three ways I stay healthy and beat the stress:
1. Take a Study (Dance) Break
This is both for work and study time, although you might want to turn this in to a walk break during work hours so you don’t get strange looks! Get up from your seat every 45 minutes to an hour, put on your favorite song and dance. The quick dance break increases your heart rate and energy level, boots your mood, provides a stretch for your legs, and a break for your eyes. If you’re prone to distraction, try the Pomodoro Technique (yes, there’s an app for it!) which is 25 minutes of work followed by 5 minutes of a break.
2. Hydrate, Hydrate, Hydrate!
It seems like coffee is the drink of choice in my Saturday class. Lots of coffee actually because the Smith School’s DC Campus has two wonderful Keurig machines, Saxby’s is down the hall, and Starbucks is across the street. Coffee can be a great pick-me-up and way to stay focused but too much and too late in the day can interfere with a good night’s sleep. Swap your second cup of coffee for some green tea and always have a glass of water alongside your coffee. One of my classmates brings a 2 liter water bottle with him and is constantly drinking from it, which means lots of bathroom breaks but he swears it keeps him focused and awake.
3. Exercise in the Morning
Getting up early can be difficult, particularly as MBA candidates when we stay up late finishing that last case study or talking with our groups via Google Hangout. Making an effort to go to bed a little earlier each night, and waking up a little earlier each morning can have huge benefits. Sneaking in that early morning workout improves your calorie burn, prepares you for a long day, and leaves you feeling accomplished. When the evening rolls around you don’t have to choose between meeting with your group members and the gym, or sneaking in a dinner date with a friend and staying on top of your fitness goals.
It was very easy for me to get in to the habit of study breaks but not so easy to quit the coffee and get up early to exercise. For the coffee, I slowly cut back over time, from 7 days a week to 5, then down to 4, to just the weekends, and now only green tea. To get up early, I created goals for myself, put together a playlist of fitness videos, and bought an alarm clock with a light.
How do you stay healthy as a Part-Time MBA? Share your tips and tricks in the comments below.
Monica Bautista is a Program Analyst at the United States Agency for International Development, specializing in family planning and reproductive health in sub-Saharan Africa. She is an MBA Candidate at the Robert H. Smith School of Business, Forté Fellow, and a Certified Health Education Specialist who enjoys giving back to the DC community. Monica can be found on Twitter at @Avenew.