Bold title right? All my life I was told that school comes first. I operated on this mentality. When I was a kid I would get my homework done and then my parents would grant me passage to go outside and play with my friends until the sunset. In undergrad, I was incredibly responsible and wouldn’t go out or to any event until my homework was completed my weekends were free of textbooks, deadlines, and assignments. This method granted me passage to a school free, fun fueled weekend that required hours of recovery rest on Sundays. While my technique sounds value, and let’s be honest it helped me maintain my stellar grades and have a lot of fun, it wasn’t that simple when I entered graduate school.
The thing is graduate school almost never stops. The information you receive is compounded and useful on almost every element of your degree. When you finish one assignment or paper you can guarantee that there’s another one simply waiting for you on the syllabus. Due to this never ending cycle of things to do it’s easy to get lost in your school work. It’s easy to put school first and only focus on that. But at what cost? The cost of being so stressed out that you quarantine yourself? Or so busy you don’t have time for anything other than schoolwork and work-work? Well my friends, I’m here to tell you that it doesn’t have to be like that. While there are a number of incredibly important things that should come before school, not down playing how incredibly important school is, but if there are number of things in our lives that demand our time, dedication, and focus and as a graduate student there are probably more than one can count on both hands. From my experience, one of the most overlooked and undervalued of those is health; whether it is your mental health or physical health. Your well-being trumps school but the best part about your well-being is that when your health is in order your life tends to follow suit. From my experience when I’ve worked out and my physical health is in order, my mind is clear from mental distractions and I’m ready to take on any and everything the world (and School) have for me. For me, my thing is going to the gym every morning at 6:45 AM. Starting my day at the gym allows me to clear my head of the day before and do something nice for me. It gives me the energy I need to conquer all of those things that require my attention through the day. So today I challenge you think about that Thing that you can put before school. The things that will fuel you and rest your mind and help you become the student you want to be. For me it’s the gym. For you it could be family time, fishing, golfing, running, or simply watching Netflix. Find your thing and do it! Put you before school.
By: Rachel Bediako
There’s no easy way to put this, graduate school is hard. No one really advertised it as being simple but in the grand scheme of things us students wouldn’t mind if it was. You’re learning an abundance of useful material while simultaneously balancing homework, relationships, families, full time jobs, part time jobs, and if you are lucky a social life. With graduate school comes a lot of late night study sessions, a lot of missed events, and a whole lot of prioritization. But don’t panic, the work is so much more enjoyable than undergraduate because you’re able to take what you’ve learned and implement it in your daily life. With the discipline and hard work comes a lot of pressure. Pressure to succeed, to get the grade, and to simply be your best. Through all of this constant need to work and be balanced we have to hold onto our hope. To center myself (and let’s be honest simply stay sane) I have put the following quote in the reminders section of my phone:
“Hope is a central part of our life force. Never surrender your hope. We know life comes in cycles and an upturn can be just around the corner. Hope helps us struggle through the desperate times. It guides us through the dark. While you have options, you have hope” – Proverb
I read this quote every single day at 2:00 pm. Honestly, the point in the day when I’m most exhausted and shifting gears from employee to student. Sometimes at 2:00 I’m rushing to get my homework done, planning out my day, staying late at work, or simply taking a deep breathe. Sometimes I’m on a downturn and, stressed out or simply overwhelmed and other times I’m on top of the world. Regardless, no matter what is going on in my day I’m reminded that while I have options I have hope. And that’s why we’re in graduate school right? To expand our options and greet the doors that have been patiently waiting for us to open them? I’m hopeful every single day and I’m thankful that graduate school was an option. I’m glad that bettering myself was an option; one that I chose every single day.
By: Rachel Bediako
Hey there Griffs!
Finals week is that magical time that happens at the end of every semester when we have to try and cram everything that we learned during the semester back into our brains so that we can try and pass a test. There’s long nights, lots of time spent with notes, and a high stress environment. But there are ways that I have personally learned to make it bearable. One of those ways is meditation. Research has proven that meditation can help to lower stress levels and in turn, help you to learn more information faster.
Some people don’t think that they can do it because they’ve never practiced it or it won’t work for them. But, I have learned that it is all about being open minded and you don’t even need to just sit cross legged in silence for a long period of time. There are multiple forms of mediation that allow you to listen to soothing music, or listen to directions to calm your mind, or there are even some active forms of meditation. I’m going to tell you some of the ways that I have personally used and I hope they help you through this tough time.
Music alone is proven to help keep our focus and help productivity. It helps us to keep our brain on task. Sometimes the silence is even more stressful. I find it useful to listen to soothing music if I am in high stress situations, such as finals. Plug in your headphones and feel instantly relaxed! There are playlists on Pandora and Spotify that will play soothing meditations and zen songs. I’ll link a few of my favorites below:
Zen Garden Radio: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637545201912427396
Calm Meditation: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637547151827579780
Soothing Sounds: http://www.pandora.com/station/play/2637548899879269252
Study Music for Concentration: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/7bzY4YsfpErw3uTDQKk0Rs
Yoga and Meditation Music: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/7vlOdA2dBKMZ4i8RnLHQeX
Weekend Relaxation: https://play.spotify.com/user/meditationrelaxclub/playlist/0U2qp6ruC3IeQ6VtVotI42
Just pop these songs on when you’re studying or writing your final papers and feel instantly calmed. They typically won’t have any words so that rids the distraction of music that you would want to sing to. I find this really soothing and helpful.
Guided Meditation is a technique that you should do while you aren’t doing anything else. It should be a time to take a break from studying and give your brain a bit of rest. You need to either sit on a comfy chair, on the floor, or I find it most relaxing to lay on my bed. The audio will walk you through the deep breathing and directions and you just need to follow along. It is NOT a hypnosis. You are always in complete control of your mind and you can open your eyes at any time. I find this technique the most helpful for me. It may leave you tired when you are done for about 15 minutes, but then I always get a burst of energy as if I’ve taken a nap. I also like to use these to help me sleep at night when I have anxiety or stress. I’ll link some of my favorite ones below.
My most favorite Guided Meditation:
Stress Relief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o94tvFUttco
Anxiety Relief: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8_jcEpwKQXc
Guided Meditation for Sleep: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oJjc4XreJSQ
I have also found that yoga is a great way to take a break and give your brain a rest. If you are more active, this might help you get up and move a little bit and stretch your body. I am in no way a yoga master. I am still in the stretching phases. I found some guided yoga practice videos for beginners that are great. They give you just a little bit of a break and it feels great on your body.
Fat Burning Yoga for Beginners:
I wish you all the best of luck during this stressful time! I hope you can find the time to try out some of these stress relievers so that you can get a little bit of a break. Remember that taking the extra time to relieve your stress will actually save you time in the long run because you will be more focused. Good luck on your tests, papers, and presentations!
Thanks for reading and Stay Golden!