Grad school can be a tough time for everyone. Between the increased academic rigor, additional responsibilities of work, internships, practicums and/or assistantships, and balancing the rest that life has to throw at you, it can seem like there is no time for anything. However, one of the biggest ways that I have been able to successfully navigate graduate school was by getting involved beyond the classroom. Finding external things to engage with and fill needs is so critical, especially during high stress times (like grad school!). While you may not be able to be the over involved undergrad student that most of us were anymore, you can still find things to do on and off campus to fill your cup. I have found that the best way to manage your time is to make sure that you are doing at least one activity in each of these three categories:
Something that gets you active- Activity looks different for everyone and every body. However, it is critical that you find something that you enjoy that has the added side effect of getting you moving. Numerous studies have found that maintaining physical activity can help reduce stress. For me it is playing on a club water polo team, but SA pros do everything from running, swimming, to lifting weights. Find something that works for you and enjoy it! Don’t worry about the progress, just enjoy the ride.
Something that brings you into community- Whatever your community of choice is, find a way to connect in fun and interesting ways. Whether you are attending a religious service, volunteering, or simply going out to a local hangout spot, being able to connect with the community that you choose to surround yourself with allows you to see the world beyond your grad school classroom and really helps put things into perspective.
Something that you can do solo- The exact opposite of point #2, everyone (even the most extroverted ones of us!) needs some alone space from time to time. Having something that you can retreat and do by yourself is so critical and can help you connect with yourself in more meaningful and deep ways. Everything from yoga to getting into a podcast or TV show is on the table, so feel free to get creative.
Graduate school can be one of the most stressful things that you have gone through, and it is so important that you navigate different stress management techniques and find the right ones that work for you, so you can maintain activity and go into the classroom and your life in a positive mindset.
Author: Kirwin Seger (he/him) is a second year grad student in Western Illinois University’s College Student Personnel program. He is a native Brooklynite, proudly autistic, and an escape room whiz. He is involved with the AER KC as their Master’s Level Graduate Student Representative and is a proud NUFP alum. He can be found on Twitter (@KirwinSeger) or Instagram (@allidoiskirwin).