Grad School and Your Wellbeing
Author: Vanessa Parise
Graduate school can be both rewarding and disheartening all at the same time. With our thesis, research/teaching assistant responsibilities, and coursework, it's easy to become overwhelmed. However, it is crucial that we prioritize our well-being, as the realities of life don't stop just because we're busy with school.
As a second year Master's student, I want to share my experiences throughout my post-secondary and post-graduate studies. Like many of us, I've faced challenges, but I have also learned effective methods for getting back on my feet. Below, I'll discuss the strategies that have helped me during my toughest times as a graduate student.
- Let the Bad Days Come and Go and Celebrate the Good Days: When I'm feeling down, it's easy to dwell on pending tasks and lack of motivation. This often leads to unnecessary stress and can make situations feel worse. That's why it's important to approach each day as it comes. On bad days, allow yourself to relax and temporarily set aside thoughts of unfinished tasks. Instead, focus on accomplishing one or two simple tasks, like making your bed or making a phone call. Jotting them down and checking them off will give you a sense of accomplishment without getting overwhelmed. Similarly, celebrate your good days. Take time to indulge in activities you enjoy, such as reading your favorite book or watching videos by your favorite YouTuber. Remember, finding balance is crucial.
- Express your Emotions in Writing: During tough times, I've found great solace in writing down my thoughts and feelings. When overwhelmed, it can be challenging to organize our emotions and thoughts. However, using pen and paper to jot them down can help bring clarity and coherence. Writing also promotes self-awareness and introspection, allowing us to escape the repetitive thoughts that may be causing distress.
- Stay Active and Occupied: It may be difficult to stay active when feeling down, but it is important to make an effort. Engaging in physical activities like going for a walk or working out can help clear your mind and boost your mood. However, it's equally essential to have low-intensity, low-risk activities that keep you occupied. This could involve streaming your favorite show, taking a leisurely stroll around your living area, or playing your favourite music. The goal is to put yourself in a position where you're less likely to ruminate on negative thoughts.
Remember, there is no shame in asking for help. Take care of yourself and most importantly be kind to yourself.
Below is the Mental Health Resources website provided by the Student Wellness Centre: https://wellness.mcmaster.ca/thriveweek/mentalhealthresources