The world is in as sad a state as it’s ever been. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the Covid pandemic has triggered a 25% increase in the prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. This is a direct result of the lockdowns implemented worldwide and the resultant economic uncertainty. In response, the WHO has issued a guide on how to look after your mental health. On their list is having a routine, keeping up with your personal hygiene, eating healthily and at regular times, exercise, and allocating time for work, rest and doing the things you enjoy.

Life, coupled with social media, has everything moving fast, with us doing the things we have to and dedicating very little time, if any, to the things we want to do. So, basically guys, there’s no time for fun. We’re always working or studying; if not studying, working some more by doing something on the side for an extra buck. At what cost? At the cost of our mental health. But how do you find the balance between fun and work? Fifth-year medical student, Queren Kamuanya Kalombo knows a thing or two about it.

Queren was born in the Democratic Republic of Congo and grew up in South Africa. She has always had a busy life, even in high school she had to choose between her hobbies and studies. Now, as a medical student and a member of the Student Representative Council at the University of Stellenbosch, she has found a way to balance doing what she needs to do with what she enjoys doing. 

“I have a lot of hobbies and I feed them at different times depending on the situation,” she says. “I enjoy drawing and I love to learn painting; maybe after med school I’ll do an art course.” Queren draws when she’s in a good mood because drawing demands creativity from her and she’s not creative when she’s in a foul mood. “I use writing as a cathartic experience, to deal with my emotions.” Queren has published her writing on the FunDza mobisite and on Wattpad. 

“I balance everything by having a schedule. My brother taught me this. I always write down the things I need to do and make time for my hobbies. I always make sure I have something scheduled to do because when I don’t, I tend to procrastinate a lot. I am more productive when I have things to do. I write down my hospital days, times to study for a coming exam, and times to rest. I always make sure I keep my Sundays open just in case there’s a project I need to finish that I didn’t find space for in the week.”

As demanding as a medicine course is, it doesn’t stop Queren from doing the things that make her happy. Let us all find time in our busy days to do things that bring us joy; if we don’t the giant that is depression will be lurking and creep into our lives: “Fee-fi-fo-fum… I smell someone glum… ”. 

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Tell us: How do you balance the things you have to do with the things you want to do?