The phrase ‘aiming for a successful work-life balance’ may make you think of pressured executives, but it is just as relevant to students at Imperial. It is important to get the balance right. You could risk not doing justice to yourself in your degree thanks to too much partying, or you may reach burn-out through non-stop work.

You can expect to work hard at Imperial, but academic excellence isn’t everything, and certainly isn’t the only thing on offer. Make sure you take time to socialise with fellow students, join a few societies, and make the most of your time here at Imperial. London is a wonderful place to be a student.

When thinking about relaxation, it is also helpful to consider the difference between rest and play – we need both.

Rest and play


We are often tempted to try to relax purely through rest. Rest is low-energy, often passive and mechanical activity, such as watching TV or a film. Whilst helpful and important for unwinding, it is crucial to also relax through play.


What constitutes play is different for each person. It is something which requires effort and enthusiasm, something creative and absorbing. For example, playing an instrument in an orchestra, exercising or playing sport, or photography. These kinds of activities are often much more refreshing, rewarding and stress-relieving than rest, as you pursue meaningful challenges outside of your studies and focus your thoughts on something that is not work.

relaxationA key question to ask yourself about your relaxation is ‘do I feel refreshed after this activity?’

Remember that you are a human being and not a machine. However pressured you feel by work, we can only work so hard and achieve so much each day. It is better to work well for eight hours and have time to eat, sleep and relax properly, than to try to work for longer and reduce your productivity and wellbeing by pushing your body and mind too hard. This is easier said than done in a competitive and demanding environment, but research reveals that working smartly with frequent breaks is more effective than trying to work for longer.

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