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Self-Care: Why MBA Students Should Care More

Self-Care: Why MBA Students Should Care More main image

It’s not always easy to take care of ourselves. Whether working a full-time job or juggling going to class and studying, sometimes the simple thought of allowing ourselves to take a break can be overwhelming.

This applies to MBA students too. As a master’s degree is more demanding than an undergrad, it requires higher mental, physical and emotional efforts.

So how can you take care of yourself more during stressful times but still be productive?

Here’s a few pointers.

Get enough sleep

You’ve probably heard it a thousand times – sleep is important. But what you might not know is that it’s also highly linked to productivity.  

A recent study found that sleep depravation, insomnia, sleepiness and snoring all decrease peoples productivity in activities ranging from working out to studying. Similarly, a month-long study of Harvard students also revealed that sleep affects grades, with those who had a regular sleep schedule performing a lot better than those without.

If you’re struggling to stay focused in or outside of class, make sure you get the recommended six to eight hours of sleep every night. It can be tempting to stay up late to study or go out networking with other MBA students, but getting a sufficient amount of sleep will help a lot more in the long run. You should also aim to go to bed and wake up at similar times throughout the week, as having a routine will help you develop healthier sleeping habits.

Choose a good time and place

We get it, not everyone is a morning person. Studying late at night when no one’s around, especially in the comfort of your own room, is a hard-to-break habit. Nevertheless, the time of day and place you choose to study can have a huge impact on your productivity and well-being.

Research suggests that physical surroundings can affect students’ academic performance up to 16 percent. Try not to study in your own room, as this can decrease not only your concentration span, but also your ability to wind down and fall asleep at a reasonable hour. Another piece of research, published on The Review of Economics and Statistics Journal, found that studying in the morning rather than in the afternoon or evening can make you more productive and increase your overall grades.

This might be hard news to take in for all-nighter fans, but if you have exams coming up you might want to start your revision earlier in the day and maybe at a library or a local café. Habits are hard to change, but what do you have to lose?

Take enough (but productive) breaks

You might be one of those students who think breaks are a waste of time, or you might be the total opposite and enjoy breaks a little too much. Nevertheless, it’s important to know that there is a science to taking breaks too.

A study by the University of Illinois found that taking breaks while studying, even during a short time span (50 minutes), helps people focus on tasks better and for longer. But be careful – not all breaks are useful. Research suggests that in order to have a refreshing break, people should switch brain activity to other areas. If you’re spending hours sitting at your desk, the best way to re-energize your body and mind is to do physical activity: a five-minute walk, a short yoga session, a high-intensity workout – the choice is yours.  Just don’t overuse your brain!

Log off for a bit

We all know that social media can be both a blessing and a curse, but surely there’s nothing wrong with networking online? Well, not quite.

A study by CivicScience found that the more people use social media, the more overall stressed and unproductive they feel. This is highly linked to chemical reactors in our brain: an abundance of dopamine, which is stimulated by online interaction, creates a mental hyperactivity that reduces our ability to focus. On the contrary, when we connect with people face-to-face our brain reacts to real-life emotions and produces oxytocin and serotonin – “happy hormones” that make us feel good but don’t affect our productivity.

While on your MBA, try to resist the temptation to obsessively refresh LinkedIn and go networking around campus instead. You’ll still be productive and, who knows, you might create long-lasting professional bonds to kick-start your career after graduation.

Written by Linda Mohamed

Linda is Content Writer at TopMBA, creating content about students, courses, universities and businesses. She recently graduated in Journalism & Creative Writing with Politics and International Relations, and now enjoys writing for a student audience. 

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