An unfortunate part of going to Grad school (or any form of higher education) is the amount of stress. The amount of stress you’ll be experiencing will go up and down depending on the time of year and what due dates are fast approaching. Reading break is one of those times when stress may melt away, and instead you end up sick.
Anyway, one of the best things you can do for yourself when you start grad school, is quickly figure out various ways and methods that help you de-stress. And try to find healthy ways to do so. If you’re like me, you’ll often find yourself snacking more than normal during times of high stress.
Spending time with friends and family – Spend some time away from school. Tell yourself you won’t check your email. Decide that for some set period of time, whether it’s an hour or a weekend, that you won’t think (or at least obsess) about work. I often find when I’m thinking/working on something else that I’ll actually have breakthroughs on my actual research.
Books – If you’re a reader, try to schedule in time to sit down and read for pleasure. Sure, you’ll probably be already spending a lot of time reading. But there’s something very different and relaxing to be reading because you want to instead of because you have to.
TV or Movies – Another great way to relax is to watch some TV or go to a movie. It’s also a great way to hang out with people. Often movie theaters have deals for students.
Shopping – Some people find shopping relaxing. Personally, I avoid it as much as possible. The trick to shopping as a grad student is to be well aware of your budget. Since it’s likely you won’t be making much, you’ll need to be careful how much you spend. You’ll probably want to stick to window shopping as much as possible.
Cleaning – I find when I have something I really need to get done but really don’t want to, I’m apt to start cleaning my place. It’s something that needs to get done, and so therefore is productive. When I’m desperately trying to avoid doing something else cleaning actually starts to feel appealing. I also find it nice to sit down at a clean desk when I need to start something new.
Cooking – If you like cooking, try finding new recipes to try. Experiment with different dishes. Try to make your own creations. See if you can find cheap was to make gourmet-like meals. There are many great blogs and food sites around that will enable you to find recipes for any diet or food preferences.
Massage – Having a half hour or hour massage can be very relaxing. If you’re like me, you’ll carry a lot of your stress in the back of your neck which can lead to tension headaches. A massage is great way to help work out all the stress.
Exercise – Another great stress reliever is to get out and exercise. Maybe this means going for a run, or riding a bike. Or hitting the gym to lift weights or taking up an activity like climbing or swimming. Not only will this likely relax you, you’ll also be helping yourself stay in shape and counteract all that snacking it’s likely you’ll do.
Do you have any specific things you do to avoid stress?