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A TABLESPOON OF MINDFULNESS | B-A-L-A-N-C-E

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Say it with me. Loud and proud. 

As overachieving, hyper-competitive Cornellians, cultivating balance in our lives usually doesn’t make it to the top of our priority lists. Acing an organic chemistry prelim, for example, is usually associated with pulling a string of all-nighters rather than sleeping restfully or grabbing a great bite to eat with friends the night before.

I’d like to dedicate this article to challenging the notion that balance gets in the way of professional success. On the contrary, I believe that a vibrant social life, self-care routine, and emphasis on both mental and physical health can lend itself to even better performance, and more importantly, to happiness.

Yes, I know. It is much easier said than done. It is so easy to choose another hour of studying over another hour of restful sleep, or to prioritize another internship application over a dinner reunion with friends.

In acknowledgement of the temptation to give it all up for those illustrious “A’s,” consider implementing the recommendations below to kick start your personal quest to attaining some balance. Disclaimer: B-A-L-A-N-C-E usually means something different for everybody. Don’t worry, the steps outlined below are very doable.

I. Make a vision board. 

Grab some old magazines or print out some visuals that catch your eye. Then, grab a piece of card stock and begin mounting your favorite cutouts. Once this is all said and done, take a moment to analyze what drew you to each visual and then act on that impulse. For example, if you included photos of iconic travel destinations, take five minutes each day to read an article about a new place. Even if you have a hectic day ahead of you, taking the time to read about your dream destination will put a smile on your face.

II. Carve out some “me time” each day. 

Whether in the morning or before bed, dedicate thirty minutes each day to a practice that you love. A “practice” can include anything from a half hour of yoga, to a journaling session, to indulging in a home cooked meal.

III. Stay in touch with friends. 

Spending some quality time with a close friend can be very rejuvenating. If you have spent hours studying for an upcoming exam and feel burnt out, consider reaching out to a friend. Taking a lunch or coffee break (with said friend) can do wonders! In no time, you will be back to work and more productive than ever.

IV. Get into motion. 

No, I am not saying that you have to go to the gym everyday. However, the little things can really add up. Instead of taking the bus to class, consider walking if it’s nice out. Or, if you have been sitting in the same place for a while, take a step outside and breathe in the fresh air. Breathing and keeping the blood flowing usually re-center the mind and alleviate stress. 

V. Keep things in PERSPECTIVE!

Life goes on after college! Please remember to have some fun. Twenty years from now, you will not remember whether or not you nailed your second financial accounting prelim. Rather, you will remember time spent with close friends.

I hope you enjoyed reading my five tips to cultivating some balance in your life. Trust me, I struggle with #5 especially, but even just increasing your awareness to what I have outlined above is a great start!

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