How to Tread Water… Grad School Style.

How to Tread Water… Grad School Style.

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September is an insane month. No getting around it. Whether you’re in your first year of grad school or your second, the first month of school always requires some adjustment. You’re trying to balance all of your academic responsibilities with still feeling like you’re a normal person with a family, friends, a healthy diet that doesn’t solely consist of Sun Chips and apple juice from the third floor vending machine in 33 E. Congress, and some semblance of a social life. It can get a little overwhelming, and the Sun Chips thing can get gross after the first week.

As someone who is preparing for a career as a teacher, September will continue to be an insane month for me long after I graduate. So how do you cope? Here’s my practical advice.What do I do when I feel overwhelmed? I write lists like it’s my job. Something about naming and prioritizing all of the things I have to do feels like a win, in and of itself. I usually create four or five post-it to do lists over the course of a week, in addition to the planner I keep on me at all times. I’ll write a list about anything if it helps me feel organized and remember things that may otherwise slip my mind. Some of the lists I have around me right now include:

  • Due dates for all of my projects and presentations
  • Schedules of school related events
  • Books I want to read when I have time
  • Artists I want to find out more about
  • I just realized I am writing a list about lists. Eek… next paragraph please!

So, my next nugget of practical advice is to STAY HEALTHY! So obvious, right? But, you’d be surprised. I’m totally paying for subsisting on Sun Chips and apple juice instead of vegetables and other more legitimate foods. I caught a cold this week, and it’s seriously slowin’ me down! Somewhere between the weather change and not eating right, my immune system decided to take a mini vacation. Not cool. Taking care of yourself is the lowest hanging fruit when you’re feeling overwhelmed. Something I started doing last year (and need to get back into) is cooking for the week on Sunday nights. That way I have leftovers that are balanced meals to eat during at least the first part of the week. My mom taught me that. Thanks, Phyllis.

My final piece of wisdom is to find time to do something that makes you happy at least once a week. All of the reading, the planning, the papers, and the deadlines can get hectic. Try to take some time for yourself. For me, my new favorite thing to do is to completely unplug and do something interesting. That means completely signing out of anything I might have an account with on the “internets,” turning off the TV and my phone, and listening to music while painting or reading, or going somewhere fun. Taking time for yourself can be anything. Just make sure that when you are finished, you feel refreshed and ready to take on the world again!