By:Veronica Sewilski, second-year nursing student
Before coming to university, I never really had any major health issues and I am extremely grateful for that. However, that all began to change at the beginning of my second year at Queen’s. I was extremely fatigued all the time. I could not focus on anything; I would walk from one place to another and not remember getting there, and I just generally felt unwell. My friends and family even began telling me that I was not acting like my usual self. At the time, I attributed all my symptoms to the stress of a new school year and pushed my worries about what was going on with me to the back of my mind because school was my priority. Long story short, I began doing poorly on my midterms and my symptoms were getting much worse. This drove me to make a doctor’s appointment where I found out that I did indeed have health issues that needed to be dealt with.
It can be extremely challenging to cope with all the demands of academia. Toss in a health crisis and all of a sudden it can feel like life becomes so much harder to manage. After being a student for so many years, I had finally gotten a handle on how to manage academic stress. However, I now had some new stressors in my life that I had to factor in and had no idea how. Luckily, SASS has a lot of resources on stress and coping strategies that provide useful tips on how to think through stress and deal with multiple life stressors.
I also had to consider how I was going to get back on track academically when I had fallen so far behind. What worked the best for me in terms of catching up on my schoolwork was to really hone in on how I managed my time. If you are looking for time management strategies, the SASS website offers some great tips, modules, and resources.
The most important life lesson that I learned from this experience is that I was almost too focused on performing well in school. It took an ER trip and being put on medication to realize that I was sacrificing my health and well-being for good grades. Turns out that by not taking care of myself to do well, I ended up doing poorly in school anyway and hurting myself even more in the process.
The point I am trying to get across here is that sometimes school needs to take a backseat. If there are other things going on in your life that are demanding your attention, maybe it’s a good idea to stop for a moment and listen. Obviously, you are a student first and that is what we are all here for. However, if you are not putting your well-being first, you can’t expect other aspects of your life to fall into place. At the end of the day, you come first.