Wake up. Go to school. Go to work. Go to the library. Go home. Study and write some more. Wake up the next day. Do it all over again. Food? Sleep? Who needs those, right? WRONG! With the scholar grind at an all-time high as a graduate student, it is easy to get so lost in the hustle and bustle that we forget to look out for someone very important: ourselves. No matter how overwhelming the challenges, always keep YOU in the front of your mind. Sometimes, ok most times, this seems impossible to do, but it can be done! How…you ask?
First, make “no” a part of your vocabulary. Now, I don’t mean say “no” every time you’re asked to do something outside of your studies. But I am saying that it is important to not embrace what I’d call the Robotic Yes Syndrome, namely, saying yes to everybody for everything. I am sure we all were guilty of doing this during our undergraduate years, especially because our studies were less intense and we could balance them with a million extracurricular activities and maybe even manage to have a social life. Graduate school, however, is a different ballgame. Best advice, take on a few things and do those few things well.
So I mentioned social life. Some people believe that being social in graduate school is laughable because it’s impossible. Not so! At least a couple times a week, I make time for my friend(s). 95% of the time, that doesn’t even mean that we are spending a lot of money and hanging out downtown Bloomington or Indianapolis. We could simply be having our weekly #TGIT watch party (e.g. Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder), snacking on popcorn and sipping on red wine. Very lowkey. Not only does this allow for mental breaks from school and school-related activities, but it is also an opportunity to check in with your peers, your support system, and make sure everyone is simply doing ok.
On the same token, remember to take some time to yourself just to regroup and get focused. This is also something that I attempt to do regularly. For me, it means meditation. I sit still and quietly and ease my mind. Our Graduate Mentoring Center here at IU hosts a “Mindful Monday” the first Monday of every month where students can come and relax, taking a break from the crazy outside world. If you don’t meditate, just do what YOU need to do to relax. Exercising a few times a week, cooking a nice meal for yourself, reading a magazine. These are all great for mental breaks. My other go to? Shopping!:)
Keep these tips in mind, and be great in your journey to a better you and a better graduate student! Remember, if you’re no good, the work you produce will be no good too.