Tips and Resources to Help Adult Learners Manage School, Work, and Family
Guest post written by Julie Paris, First Literacy Board Member and Wellness Program Manager at Akamai
I learned a new phrase very recently while brainstorming with other peers in the Human Resources and people operations field – the phrase is “work-life harmony.” I remember many years ago having a similar conversation with coworkers about how work-life balance wasn’t the best phrase anymore. Work and life is never in an equal balance. At that time work-life integration felt more appropriate. Work, school, and life outside of those two places are often going to integrate with each other so figuring out how to manage is the important thing.
Whether you refer to it as balance, integration – or my new favorite, harmony – have a toolkit ready for moments when different people, work shifts, homework and other tasks are demanding your time and pulling you out of harmony. Being prepared will help you quickly bounce back to being your best self. To me, being your best self is having resilience, appropriate levels of stress, and productivity.
Consider adding one or more of these strategies to your wellness toolkit:
Low Difficulty Level
- Drink enough water throughout the day. Water is essential to keeping your body working the way it should work. Weight Watchers has a great way to help you calculate the ideal amount of water that you should aim to drink each day.
- Eat nutritious foods every day. This does not necessarily mean at every meal! Start small and have your favorite fruit or vegetable on hand for a snack between meals. Or try one of these recipes from Lexi’s Clean Living, a Boston area wellness and lifestyle brand.
- Set limits on the time spent on social media. Boundaries help you make the most of your day and help you stay focused on the task at hand. Smartphones have cool features that will alert you when you’ve reached your set limit of time and have focus modes to keep notifications from distracting you. These instructions will help you if you have an iPhone.
- Express thanks. Boost your mood by writing a gratitude list or listen to a reading of Have You Filled Your Bucket Today? Just try it and you will see immediate results!
Medium Difficulty Level
- Get restorative sleep. Allow your body to rest and recover so you can perform your best each day. Massachusetts based clinical sleep educator and behavioral sleep therapist, Rick Clerici, shares great tips for good sleep hygiene in this podcast. I have attended many presentations led by him and the best advice he provided me was to wear an eye mask to completely darken the environment.
- Build up a mindfulness practice. Meditation trains the brain to be more focused. Try this 3-minute meditation from Stop Breathe Think to get started and see if you can build up to longer sessions over time.
- Plan and prioritize. Plan your schedule 2 or more weeks in advance and consider reprioritizing tasks scheduled on days that seem overwhelmingly busy. This chart was shared with me by productivity expert, Alexis Haselberger, and I have found it helps me get through my to-do list and meet deadlines.
Higher Difficulty Level
- Preserve time for something you love. Whether you enjoy watching a TV show, reading a few chapters of a book, doing a craft, or going for a walk, make time for these things. It can be difficult to make these activities a priority when there are so many other things to be done but an act of self-care can reduce stress, increase happiness, and minimize frustration.
- Meet with a counselor or therapist. Many employers and schools offer free short-term counseling. Sometimes the services are described simply as mental health support while other times it’s called an employee assistance program or EAP. You may be able to find services available to you by speaking with your employer’s HR department or searching on the student services page of your school’s website. Your children, spouse, parents, and parents-in-law may also be able to use these services. If you find the program available to you, ask if the program is available to family members, as well.
- Ask for help. Why is that such a difficult thing to do? I recognized only recently that I struggle to ask for help even though people are usually very willing to help me after I ask. To work on this, I decided to start asking for help in the gym, “Will you help me carry this when you’re finished what you’re doing?” No one has told me “no” yet! If my experience isn’t helpful, this article has expert advice. And at First Literacy we are happy to help. Please feel free to contact us at any time. We want to see adult learners succeed and will do what we can to help.
First Literacy has a suite of resources that would also make great additions to your toolkit. Bookmark the Resources for Students page so that you can quickly and easily access it when you need it.