Stress and graduate school go hand in hand. While earning a degree, many students also earn sleep deprivation, irritability, chronic muscle pain, and high blood pressure. Learning healthy and effective stress management techniques will not only make you a happier and more productive student, but will also prepare you to handle job and family stress in the future.
Here are 10 tips to managing stress:
1. Break up large projects in to smaller pieces. Sometimes big projects are so overwhelming that you get stuck focusing on how much there is to do. This can make it difficult to know where and how to get started. If, instead, you think of the project as a series of smaller tasks, it is easier to see what can be done easily and immediately. Once you have a few things out of the way, the whole project seems more manageable.
2.Develop a plan of attack. Once you have identified the component tasks of a project, take some time to figure out how much time you need to devote to each task and in what order they need to be completed. Setting due dates for each task will help ensure that you get complete your project on time. If possible, add some wiggle-room to your schedule to give yourself time to deal with any unexpected issues.
3.Get organized. A few extra minutes devoted to organizing your research materials can save you hours of stress at the end of your project. Reference management software like EndNote and Zotero, both available on the Libraries’ public computers, can help you keep track of your sources and add references and bibliographies to your paper.
4.Use the right tool for the job and use it well. Take a workshop at Dewey to learn about the research tools available at the Libraries and how to use them effectively. Classes like Introduction to Federal Policy Research and the Social Welfare Research Seminar will introduce you to subject specific search strategies and resources.
5.Limit distractions when working. Even the best laid plans can be derailed by ringing phones, crying children and a new episode of your favorite TV show. The easiest way to ensure that you don’t get sidetracked is to find a quiet, dedicated study space. The Libraries have many options from quiet study areas to PhD student study carrels . Group study areas, like the one in the basement of Dewey, are perfect for study groups and joint projects.
6.Schedule downtime so you don’t get overworked. All work and no play may make Jack a dull boy, but it will also make him a miserable, stressed-out wreck. Make sure that your schedule includes time for hobbies and interests and fun with family and friends. Have a movie night with a DVD or two from the Libraries’ collection.
7.Get some exercise. In addition to improving your general health, exercise can help you manage your stress levels . It doesn’t have to be an intensive gym session or cut-throat basketball game, even a walk around the block will help you relax and refresh.
8.Try a relaxation technique. Activities like yoga, tai chi and meditation can help you reduce the symptoms of stress by lowering blood pressure, improving concentration and reducing muscle tension and chronic pain, among other things. Check out Minerva, our online catalog, for more information on relaxation techniques. Try selecting search by subject and typing in the subject heading Relaxation for some great resources.
9. Ask for help when you need it! There is nothing more stressful than searching and searching for information and not being able to find it. Luckily, there are many ways you can get research help for your project. Make a P.A.W.S. appointment and get personalized research assistance from a reference librarian. You can also make an appointment with a subject specialist to learn about resources in your field. For immediate help, stop by the reference desk at any of the Libraries. Not on campus? You can get help remotely via phone, email, IM or text.
10.Accept your limitations. By nature, graduate students are overachievers. However, with all the demands on their time and attention, from classes and research projects to jobs and family responsibilities, perfection is not always possible. Learning when and how to accept “good enough” will significantly reduce your stress levels.
Mastering these techniques will not make stress disappear from your life, but it will make you a happier and healthier person.
For research assistance, contact us at 442-3691, email@example.com or stop by the reference desk.
Blog post created by Cary Gouldin