Been there, done that.

After six years of grad school, there are a few things I've picked up from personal experience and a whole lot of time talking with other female grad students (AKA procrastinating). I've always wished there had been some kind of handbook about how to handle the whole world of graduate school, so I figured I'd start a friendly place to discuss what it's like to be female in grad school, and maybe pass on some wisdom too!

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Dealing with the Stress

Alrighty people, I'm taking a break from the pile of midterms staring at my on my desk to write about something I've been rather intimately aware of lately: STRESS. Honestly, as my to-do list reaches insane proportions, I have been struggling with the concept of dealing with it all. I think this has a lot to do with a graduate student's life, and grad school in general lends itself to a little of this:

(This is me WAY too much of the time!)
Stress levels may ebb and flow a bit throughout your graduate career, but it's probably going to be a pretty large presence in your life. Not only that, but women tend to deal with stress differently. Some of us thrive on it even (not that that's me. Uh-nuh. Nope.), or become addicted to it even (never!). So finding ways to deal with it that work for YOU is going to be important. Because being stressed out all the time can lead to:

WTH? Seriously, don't eat your computer! Try donuts. They taste better!
Just as a recap, stress in your life can lead to: loss of hair (with or without you ripping it out), ulcers, blood pressure problems, and lowered fertility. So even if you finally get to a point in life where you can have a family, it can become a problem. Basically, all of these are bad things, and there are a bunch of other health symptoms that stress can cause or affect. Don't let grad school do this to you! I mean, I'm sooo the best example for this right? Totally. Because I swear, this is me:
I regularly find myself wandering the halls of my building, totally lost in a stressed-out daze, and then I wonder why people ask me what's wrong.... :) 
Anyhow, there are a lot of ways that I try to mitigate being an ulcer-queen (wow, that sounds dirty). Here are a few that might be things to think about, and please, chime in with a comment for any others that you've used yourself, or seen others using:
  • Exercise. I never thought I'd become a gym person. I mean, it's kinda not me, like, at all. But I swear, if I don't go now, I find myself climbing the walls. Plus, added bonus, burning some extra calories. This is especially good for those times when you absolutely must have chocolate (or insert goodie of choice, so long as it's high in calories) or the afternoon will not go on. I mean, we've all been there, right? Good tip for getting to the gym: find a buddy to go with! What I would do without mine would involve a lot more of my couch.
  • Find a hobby. You are all reading mine :) But seriously, finding something to do outside of school that allows you to think about something else for a while is a bonus. Tactile things are really good. Doesn't have to be fancy, but find something. I know a lot of people who cook/bake/make awesomely yummy things to eat. They earn lots of bonus points for bringing said yummy things in to share, too...
  • Give yourself a day. Once a week. It may sound impossible at times (and I'll admit, this is a hard one for me to manage), but knowing you'll have one day a week to not think about school stuff really helps the rest of the week be more productive. So, go outside. Do your laundry. Read a book for pleasure. Treat yourself with a day off. Your to-do list will thank you.
  • Find someone to talk to. Some days are just so bad. So insane. It can really help to have someone, not necessarily to dump on, but to commiserate with. This is especially true for females--we need this kind of social connection. So, take your office-mate to get something to drink. Talk. Share. Take a load off.
  • Be organized. This is a total no-brainer. But still, it's worth mentioning. Because nothing stresses me out more than forgetting stuff or realizing I have missed out on something because I never wrote it down. Find a notebook, a planner, google-calendars. Something. It helps!
  • Don't beat yourself up about things you've missed. It doesn't help.
  • Do a google image search for "stress." WOW. I laughed my butt off. Sometimes, really, it's the simple things that can really make a difference though. Find out what works for you and keep at it.
Some days, I swear, the only thing that keeps me going is knowing I'm almost done with school. There is light at the end of the tunnel. (I mean, not that I have even had a spare minute to look at the rest of my dissertation I'm supposed to be currently writing, but that's okay. Really. Sorta.) Still, it's been a slog of a few years, and a lot of it is lost to a stress-induced haze. Don't let this happen to you!

So, do tell, what is your best means of dealing with stress? Please share!

Also, if you have an idea for something you'd like to share as a post as one of our awesome guest-posts, please contact me!

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