How I am handling the increasing stress of graduate school without falling into old behaviors:
- I don’t care if I have work to do, in fact the truth is there will always be more work to get done, but I put everything away by a certain time every evening and unwind for bed. If I don’t get at least eight hours of sleep at night (I prefer nine), I cannot function at my highest the next day and all of my work suffers. I am a lot more productive and can concentrate a lot more if I am getting the rest I need.
- Meal planning. Every Sunday morning I go to the store and have everything for the week available. It is a lot easier to do one larger shopping every week than going to the store every other day or so because I need something for dinner. My days are very long and being able to just get home and already know what is for dinner makes the evening less stressful. I always have a couple of extra meals that I could prepare in case what I planned for just doesn’t sound good at the time. Even though I plan, I still need to remain flexible.
- I am now in training mode for competitions which can make this one a little difficult and will need to dedicate an entire post to about exercise and training as an athlete after recovery, but for now I know that being in the gym is my time to escape from the stress of school. It makes me feel strong and allows me to clear my head.
- Social time. Just because I have exams and papers to read and write, I can’t neglect social time with those I love. Even short visits or outings make my day just a little brighter. Being able to stay home and watch a movie with my boyfriend on Friday nights is a success for me and I really cherish that time. Sometimes it is hard for me to stay at home and not be studying or cleaning or worrying about things I should be doing. Relaxing with him and my dogs is exactly something I should be doing. And of course football….need I say more? (Broncos are 2-0 and so far my fantasy team is winning!)
- Self-care. This one seems to make the most sense but really is the first that tends to go when my schedule gets overloaded. Reading, writing, coloring, etc are all valuable things that help me reset my mind and allow my time working to be more productive.
As I head into the coming week with one of my biggest exams Monday I needed to put this out on paper and realize that there is a lot more to life than one class. I cannot sacrifice health in order to feel perfect about the material. That is why this morning I am writing and drinking delicious coffee and later I will be going to a college football game with my dad and boyfriend and tomorrow will be a day preparing for the week and spending time with family. I will fit my studying in here and there and not stress about it. Maybe you struggle with trying to be perfect when it comes to school and let me assure you that life is more than a test or a grade. When studying, study hard, but don’t forget all the simple things like sleep and friends that ultimately make life better and your work time more productive.