Deciding to further my education and go to graduate school was a tough decision in and of itself. This not only involved deciding on a program that fit my interests and career goals, but also on deciding when would be an ideal time to start. After being out of college for 2 years, I had made it a goal of mine to start a graduate program by the fall of 2019. I found a program that fit my interests and decided to jump in and begin with 10 credits for my first semester.
I should first mention that I am lucky that PRA is such a flexible workplace and supports staff who are interested in furthering their education. Not only did I benefit from tuition reimbursement, but I was greatly appreciative that I was able to flex my schedule when needed or take paid leave that I had been saving.
However, upon starting my program, I quickly realized that I was going to lose a lot of the free time I was used to having. I needed to get better at time management and learn how to prioritize my previous daily activities.
This experience really helped me reflect on the eight dimensions of wellness. I quickly realized that when I prioritize one dimension of wellness, another dimension may fall to the wayside. For example, my physical wellness took a toll as I struggled to make time for the gym. This is something that I think transcended into other aspects of wellness. I tend to feel my best when I am making time to be physically active. When I fall behind on this, I notice it starts to affect other dimensions such as emotional/mental wellness.
There were some weeks that were tougher than others, but I got into somewhat of a routine and made it work. At this point in life, intellectual and occupational wellness are quite important to me. However, that does not mean that I should let the other dimensions that are important to me be negatively affected.
As an attempt to better balance the eight dimensions of wellness, next semester I plan to have a weekly check-in with myself to reflect on how I am doing with the eight dimensions.
The following list of tips may be helpful for others who may be trying to balance the eight dimensions:
- A new year has started. This is a great time to reflect on your experience with the eight dimensions of wellness this past year. Think about what dimensions you prioritized and what made you feel your best. This is different for everyone, so try to be aware and accepting of yourself and your needs. For some, this may be making it a point to meditate each day, or perhaps it may be going to the gym a couple of times a week. For others, it may be both.
- Check-in with yourself. You may be doing great with one dimension of wellness, but perhaps are falling behind in another. While there does not have to be a perfect balance among all dimensions, “the goal is to find a personal harmony with the dimensions that are most authentic for you.”
- Know when you have too much on your plate. And know when you do not. Some weeks, it truly was just not possible for me to make time for the gym. However, there were other weeks when I could have fit it in my schedule but chose not to. From this, I learned how it made me feel when I skipped out on a dimension that is important to my personal harmony. I know that moving forward, I need to do all I can to prioritize the things that make me feel my best.
- Implement a check-in system. Weekly may be too much to begin with, but perhaps start out with monthly. Reflect on your past month and how you did with the eight dimensions. If you feel off-balance, adjust for the next month. Maybe even consider asking a coworker or friend to join you and act as accountability structures for each other.
Through attending graduate school while working full time, I realized the true importance of the eight dimensions of wellness and how they can affect day-to-day life. To me, the eight dimensions are about how you prioritize things that make you feel your best. We all know that at times it can feel impossible to manage everything, but the eight dimensions give you a good starting point for checking in with yourself.