School-life balance is critically important for optimal academic functioning…

Life remains a series of events which constitute it. The importance of one sphere should never be permitted to adversely have an impact on the other. The successful and evolving interrelationship between the different spheres and facets of life require a balanced focus that’s able to structure and prioritise. Often one sphere may demand more attention and enjoy priority over others. However, students often prioritise academics at the expense of personal factors, including relationships and exercise.

We’ve all heard the adage, ‘a healthy body, a healthy mind’. Neglecting the very important social and personal realm can lead to a decline in academic performance, as general health and well-being are critical to optimal academic functioning.

Let us consider the following question: Is it important to have a social life during school years?

It IS important because you develop social skills and people skills. It aids you in the process of developing interpersonal and intrapersonal skills. One cannot stress enough how important it is to have social skills. You could be the smartest person in the world, but a significantly less smart person with better social skills would still have an advantage over you, during a job interview, for example. The more you are around people, the more you practise these skills.

Also quite significantly, having a well-balanced social life inevitably makes you encounter some rather unpleasant situations. For example, you could be embroiled in a fight with a friend or be confronting issues of betrayal and lack of trust. As social beings, it is necessary to engage the rigours and challenges of life to enhance learning and to experience a sense of belonging. Learning from experience is the most beneficial in the life of any school goer. The more you encounter said situations now, the less it will bother you in the future. The benefits of a conscious and constructive engagement of both an academic and social life lie in the life skills that it can teach. It can provide you with an increased repertoire of emotional tools with which to tackle the fluctuating fortunes of life.

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You could be the smartest person in the world, but a significantly less smart person with better social skills would still have an advantage over you

Academic success can certainly provide you with a standard and quality of life that will provide you with material pleasures and comforts. Yet, without the emotional stability that your success requires, you will not be able to fully reap the benefits of academic success.

Moreover, what we see in our towns and cities today are collections of people unknown to one another. Only when an accident happens or when a disaster occurs, people behave as a social group. Also important is that we are living in a virtual world. We are always living in stress and hardly with total freedom. In the past, activities were physical and needed group participation so social behaviour was dynamic and ever-present.

Nowadays, living in a virtual world, we use our brains most of the time. No companion is present to share the various feelings we may court at any given point in time. Even indoor games and TV series force us to feel all emotions whilst sitting idle. All chemicals generated inside our bodies are not assimilated in proper ways because of our sedentary and less active lifestyles. This creates imbalances in the brain which can adversely hamper one’s academic goals in life. What a contradiction it would be if the very success we felt our academic achievements would guarantee were to be nullified by our aversion and indifference to our social and emotional well-being!

Here are five ways to encourage your teens to maintain balance between work and school:

1. Keep an updated schedule: This is a great way to make use of the calendar app on your phone
2. Work ahead (or just don’t procrastinate): By procrastinating, you are allowing your to-do list to grow and grow into an intimidating amount of work
3. Get a good night’s sleep: Feeling revitalised is the best way to tackle the challenges that the new day brings
4. Prioritise your work: Falling behind will create stress and anxiety
5. Prioritise time for yourself!: You will not function properly if you don’t work on your inner need for belonging and acknowledgement

PS. Go see a sunset before knuckling down with exams!

Article by: Ivan Horn, Principal at Abbotts College Claremont