I've been an adult college student for the last four years, so I know what it's like to be a responsible adult student trying to keep up with kids half her age while staying healthy at the same time.
It can be difficult (at any age) to just do your homework assignments, make it to class each day, meet up for group projects, and study your butt off. What if you're a grown adult with a job? A family to take care of? A home to look after? Well, that's a nice extra layer of challenge right there.
So, how can a person succeed at school, balance family life, work life, and still stay healthy?
Here are some ideas I've personally found useful in my own life:
1. Bring your meals with you to work and school.
This saves time, money and inches on your waist! It's only a hassle to do this the first week of starting the new routine. After that, it becomes second nature. If you've planned an evening study session with a group of other students, or have other nighttime obligations, pack go-to snacks like chopped veggies, handheld fruits, a small amount of trail mix, etc.
2. Plan all of your meals ahead of time.
Bulk cook and prep on the weekends for your breakfasts and/or lunches. Having Tupperware containers full of salads and breakfast casseroles is a big win for a successful week of eating! Most foods will stay fresh for several days in the fridge. Dedicate one or two hours every weekend for bulk cooking, and you'll be thankful you did.
3. Make the crockpot your dinner date.
Whether you're single or you have an entire family at home to cook for, a slow cooker is a true lifesaver. Every single day that I go to school and work, I prepare a crockpot meal before I head out of the front door. I place pre-chopped onions at the bottom of the crockpot, layer with pre-sliced mushrooms, add a bunch of frozen grass-fed meat, add spices on top of the meat, throw in some frozen or fresh vegetables, and consider adding a can of organic tomato sauce or broth of some sort. That's it. That's the recipe to successful dinners during stressful times!
4. Consider mixing it up with smoothies and shakes for breakfast.
Tossing water, protein powder, raw kale, spinach, and berries into a blender takes all of 20 seconds. It takes 20 seconds to rinse out the blender when you're done too. I know this because I've pretty much stopped eating solid foods for breakfast these days and enjoy a quick protein shake instead. Less clean up, less time, just as filling and healthy!
5. Limit your consumption of booze.
Many people turn to alcohol to relax during stressful situations because it's the easiest thing to use for comfort besides food. Drinking on a regular basis will lead to constant brain fog, lethargy and forgetfulness. How is that helpful?
6. Schedule fitness as a priority.
At this point, you may already be using to-do lists and calendar schedules to keep everything in your life straight. Go ahead and add appointments for your fitness routines. I've personally noticed that no matter how much I enjoy working out, it's the first thing to fall by the wayside if I don't make it a priority.
7. Talk with a mentor, coach, or counselor once or twice a month.
It's amazing to have an unbiased person to help guide you in life, especially during stressful times. You might not feel like you have the time to schedule in a session to talk to someone for one or two hours a month, but believe me, you do.
It doesn't have to be someone you pay $200 an hour to see. Sharing your current stresses with someone can take a huge weight off your shoulders. In most cases, you'll also receive feedback from them on blind spots and strategies to improve your circumstances.
8. Re-evaluate your current priorities and extracurricular activities.
You can't be everything to everyone, and you're no good to anyone if you're worn too thin on time. Pick your battles wisely. This also goes for physical fitness endeavors. When you're incredibly busy, it's probably not the best idea to train for a triathlon or hike the highest mountain summit nearest you.
The time and physical energy required to do this kind of training will certainly take away from time with friends and family, and add stress to your life that you may not be capable of handling for very long. Save these adventures until school is out for the summer.