Are you asking yourself, “can I handle grad school?” Of course you can! Going back to school for a graduate degree can be very stressful; but it doesn’t have to be. Chances are you are more focused than you were as an undergraduate, and you have a better idea of where your education and career will take you in the future. The key is keeping yourself organized, allowing yourself time to focus on your school work, and avoiding distractions that keep your from doing your best. Of course, this is all well and good, but life isn’t usually free of distractions. That’s why Ultius has compiled the following list of stress management techniques for you. Here are 20 ways to manage stress while getting your graduate degree!
How to reduce stress in grad school
- Organize. Grad school stress and anxiety can make anyone a disorganized mess. Take the time to organize yourself at the beginning of the semester, set reminders for crucial assignments, and plan out the sections of larger assignments that you need to work on week-by-week. This way those large graduate school project won’t snowball on you over the course of the semester.
- Study in peace and quiet. Grad school stress is loud enough even in quiet places. Many people who are working on graduate degrees are in their thirties or forties, and often have children, or at least a pet. Make sure you set aside time when the kids are away at school or a play date, asleep, or otherwise occupied. Constant interruption makes it difficult to stay on task, and distractions will detract from your concentration and final results. Turn off your cell phone so it doesn’t distract you, and try to read or write offline if email and social media pings distract you easily. Can’t turn off your phone? Try one of these study apps.
- Eat well. Eat a snack before you study, and have your favorite beverage close at hand, whether it’s a latte or a huge glass of juiced fruit. This will keep you from getting up to snack if you are having problems getting started, and keep you hydrated while you’re studying. Remember, no fast food!
- Get enough sleep. Coping with graduate school is a tiring endeavor. We all know that life doesn’t always allow for plenty of sleep, but if you skimp in this area, it can quickly affect your concentration, leading to falling grades or missed instructions on an important term paper.
- Exercise. Having trouble thinking of a topic for said term paper? Going for a walk or a run will jumpstart your brain, keep you going during a study session, and allow your brain space to think of the problem you’re facing in a different way. This is the best way to learn how to reduce stress in grad school. Exercise promotes both physical and mental health. If you’re health conscious, steer clear of these 20 cheap college foods.
- Ask for help. Don’t try to puzzle out confusing online assignment instructions or a badly organized syllabus on your own; ask questions of your professor. This communication effort will let your professor know you really care about the course and what you’re learning, as well as that you want to do things correctly. You can also ask your peers for help, or a family member who has a graduate degree. Ask a pro writer to help you sharpen your skills and avoid common writing mistakes.
- Don’t try to do the impossible. Don’t stress yourself out with tight deadlines; look at the larger projects you have and try to piece them out into weekly portions that are easier to accomplish. Graduate school isn’t easy; it takes good planning to do well.
- Manage your stress vulnerability. Find out what your stress vulnerability rating is. Antioch University of New England suggests using their “Vulnerability to Stress Quiz” to find out if your lifestyle is conducive to success as a graduate student. You can search the term and answer the questions to find out where your problems lie.
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- Limit your alcohol intake. Studying with a hangover is not pleasant. The dehydration leaves your mind feeling sluggish, and you may make mistakes in your course simply because you’re tired. So avoid drinking when you have to study or give a presentation the next day.
- Try not to worry about money. Graduate students are often living off of a part-time or full-time job while they complete their degree. While financial assistance stipends often help with this situation, they are usually not enough to live any way except frugally. Make sure your bills are paid and you are putting some money away for emergencies; then money concerns won’t add to the difficulty of getting the degree that will earn you more. If you’re concerned about financial aid, check out these 6 myths about student financial aid.
- Keep your physical health in check. Keep your health under control, and make sure you getting at least a half hour of exercise each day – or an hour. It’s not easy to fit exercise into a graduate student lifestyle, but if you do your studies, your mind, and your body will thank you for it. Exercise sharpens the mental faculties and clears the mind.
- Don’t smoke. If you smoke, quit. The time you waste chasing this extremely harmful habit is time you could be studying or researching, after all.
- Support your dream with the help of others. Form a support group of students in your course or degree department, or find a family member who has completed a graduate degree or can commiserate with you. The support of friends, peers, and family members is key to success in any endeavor.
- Don’t use all your free time for studying. Just because you are a graduate student doesn’t mean you can’t have fun. Blowing off some steam with friends or spending time with your family is NOT off-limits – in fact, it might even help you recharge when you hit the books again.
- Don’t consume too much caffeine. Don’t overdo the caffeine; too much makes you sleepy and causes you to lose concentration. If you need a nap, take one. Your books, assignments, computer, and cell phone will still be there when you wake up.
- Let some assignments go if you have to. Every graduate student occasionally has an emergency that prevents an assignment being finished on time, or prevents them from attending class once or twice. Although the syllabus leaves no room for error, your professor is usually much more forgiving. Notifying him or her ahead of time of a date you need to miss class because of an appointment will guarantee you don’t lose points while you’re gone. Most professors are very understanding about emergencies; after all, you can’t help it if your kid gets sick.
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- Don’t be a perfectionist. If you’re a graduate student, you were successful as an undergraduate student and are probably a perfectionist. There may be some assignments you have to let go because you couldn’t find the time, or you might need help understanding a certain concept. Allow yourself to be imperfect, and don’t push yourself too hard.
- Don’t procrastinate. Schedule your time out at the beginning of the semester, and stick to it whenever possible. The large projects common in graduate school can really pile up on you if you haven’t planned out your time and efforts accordingly. Use a written or wall calendar in addition to your smartphone, tablet, or laptop to organize your courses and due dates.
- Maintain your relationships. Let your significant other, family, and friends know that you are undertaking a time-consuming graduate degree in order to better your life and possibly theirs. Let them know that you may not be as available as you were before, but that you will make time for them when you can – and do so.
- Take lots of deep breaths. Tell yourself that you can get through this. Graduate school is tough, but not impossible. It will get you closer to your dream, and that’s worth a lot.
Earn your Master’s degree in stress management
We hope you learned how to reduce stress in grad school. These are just a few tips to deal with the stress of getting your graduate degree. If you master all 20 techniques, you earn a Master’s degree in stress management at Ultius. In all seriousness, if you still feel like the pressure is too much, Ultius is here to help! We provide exceptional academic writing solutions to college students worldwide.