Tips for Getting Through the Stress of Graduate School Finals

Tips for Getting Through the Stress of Graduate School Finals

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It is finals week(s). I would be lying if I said that I was not stressed. I won’t lie then. I am stressed. I have my first final paper of graduate school to finish writing this week. Next week is my first big critique that wraps up Thinking Through Making, the first semester studio course for Interdisciplinary Book and Paper Arts MFA students. There seems like there is so much left to do, with so very little time left to do it all.

The good news is that I am not alone in this. My cohort is going through the same situation. One of the best parts of this program is that we are a cohort system. Especially during this first semester, it’s great having people around that have been working hard right along side me, trying to accomplish the same things. So there is that—acomfort that there are others with me that are stressing out about finishing this first semester too.

How else am I coping with the stress?

Late nites at IHOP to write my final. Comfort food helps (in moderation, of course). My family has been a super big help in these last few weeks. I don’t know how anyone can do well in graduate school without a great support system. I am very lucky to have them. There is also:

• Taking a later train home so that I can sit at a restaurant at the train station to write more.

• Remembering to take breaks and play with my kids. Crawling around chasing after a one-year-old helps keep everything in perspective.

• Mostly there is coffee. Lots of coffee.

Seriously though, the best thing that I can do is to stay busy and focus on the work I’m doing, not thinking about how much there is left to do. That’s when the stress rolls in like thunder. Today, I spent most of my day in the paper studio pulling sheets to be made into a couple of books. Honestly, while working today, I felt the least stressed I have felt in weeks. It was very refreshing.

To be fair, I think that papermaking is EXTREMELY therapeutic. It’s something about the ritual of it. There’s a specific process that takes time, but you get these great rewards in perfectly pulled sheets of paper. It’s also something about the water. It’s a very fluid process. Some people sit by streams to relax. I like to pull paper from vats of water.

So there it is. Finals week(s). I’m stressed, but so is everyone else. That is how I’m getting through it. And, when it’s all said and done, we get to go on break! Family, holidays, my birthday (wink, wink), and of course, the Hobbit! So, I got this. It will all be over before we know it.