Writing Your Literature Review

I think one of the most stressful portions of grad school is writing academic papers. You want perfection when all you hear from everyone is “just get it done, it doesn’t have to be perfect.” I hated hearing this because I wanted all of my papers to be perfect., but what even is perfection? That may be another blog post to be honest. This post is about writing a literature review and going in for publication.

I submitted my manuscript to a journal in May, I believe (this year has been weird and my days and months are out of whack). We received comments in June and resubmitted three weeks later. I am waiting to hear back from the editor to see if I will be a published author or not. Hopefully I am.

This blog is about the process of writing such a monster of a paper. I believe I had 65-70 pages at the very end. Probably 30 of those pages were references though. I counted over 200 references when I was finished. Yes, it was a beast and very scary, but you can totally do it and have fun while skimming through articles for hours. Here’s a list of how I went about writing my lit review.

Blank paper with pen and coffee cup on wood table

Ways to make the best Literature Review

1. Create a skeleton

You need a basic outline of what you want to include and where sections will go. Remember, literature reviews are trying to bring as much knowledge about a subject into one paper. It needs to have flow and tell a scientific story. What I mean by this is you want to tell the reader why your future research will be important due to a lack of knowledge in the field you are working on. Also, you want the reader engaged since this is a very long chapter of your dissertation. Having an outline will keep the paper organized, it will help you find specific papers to use, and it will make it engaging to the reader.

2. Just write and don’t go for perfection at first

It is much easier to just write than to think about writing. Writing a literature review is just about getting the words on paper. I often put off writing because I think that I can just do it later when I have motivation. I then spend hours or days thinking about the writing I have to do and it’s torture. Don’t do this, just write. This paper is long and you will need to put in time. It’s way easier to write a little everyday than to cram it in last minute and hope that it makes sense. Plus, your first draft will most likely suck. You will re-write sections multiple times and never be satisfied, but at least you wrote something. My first draft was absolute garbage, not going to lie. My adviser worked with me and we managed to turn something that belonged in a landfill into something that (hopefully) belongs in a journal.

3. Read, read, read

When you have all of your sections outlined, you need to start reading a ton of articles. I mean….A TON! I read about everything from lead poising in children, to quantum entanglement. My research deals with lead so how I ended up reading about quantum physics, I don’t know. But seriously, read as much as you can, and if you can, write a summary of the paper. That will help later on when you are looking for stuff to place in your lit review.

Opened Book on Tree Root

4. Be kind to yourself

Some days I would write1500 words in the span of a few hours. Other days, I would only write 200. This is normal!!! Push yourself to do the best you can but be kind to yourself when you don’t hit the crazy goals that you set for yourself. I promise you that you will finish.

5. Have your adviser review prior to submitting

My adviser had to review my paper since this was my very first manuscript to go in for publication. He added sections, subtracted sections, and rewrote quite a bit. After his revisions, it was time to go in for initial publication.

When submitting to a journal, it is extremely wise to determine if the journal you want to submit to will actually take you paper. I did a ton of research and found a decent one to send my review paper to. I went online and they have a few websites where you can upload your paper and it will give you recommendations on what journals to submit to. This is what I did and it worked fairly well. Once you find the journal, go on their web page and read everything about that journal. Make sure it has a good impact factor since you want more people to see your manuscript as well as cite it in their papers. These factors will help you get noticed and are great CV boosters. Once you submit, sit back and wait. Usually for literature reviews, you’ll get comments back a bit later. The reviewers usually go through the whole paper and read almost every citation you put in. Mine did at least.

Photo Of Person Using Black Laptop

6. Read the comments and reply

My comments were not terrible. The worst part was writing the literature review to be honest. I have heard of people reading the comments from their paper and immediately crying because the reviewers just ripped them apart. This probably won’t happen to you, though. So, read the comments, let them sort of digest and then tackle them head first. I would say a vast majority of the comments were dealing with grammatical errors and addition of some more references. If you do get crazy comments, talk with your adviser about how to address those specifically. Sometimes you may have to just fight the reviewer to keep what you have in the paper.

7. Send the comments back and wait.

This is where I am at in the process. I constantly check the journal website for any hope, but I know I need to be patient. I will update all of you when I find out the outcome. It should be any day.

Final Thoughts

Writing a literature review can be a daunting task but it doen’t have to be. Just follow the above steps and you will be fine. I promise you that. Good luck with your lit review and I hope this somewhat helped. Peace for now

What to Do When Everything Goes Wrong: Grad School

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You will have some pretty bad days in grad school. Experiments will go wrong, you failed an exam, you forgot to pack a lunch, you get the point. I have had my fair share of extremely bad days, where everything seemed to just go wrong, and there was nothing I could do to stop it. Lately, I have experienced quite a few failed experiments (I blame the ghost), pretty bad anxiety, and having my cat go in for an emergency vet visit. There’s a long list of things that go bad in my life but I am not here to rant. I am here to help you overcome these hurdles and thrive!!! I will not lie, this post is quite a difficult one but I will try my best. Just know that everyone deals with things a little bit differently, so what works for me, may not work for you. This is the beauty of trial and error. Also, this is why I love to know how people deal with these problems so I can add to the list of coping methods. Anyway, let us get started. dealing with what to do when things go wrong.

1. Acknowledge that you are having moments of hardship and tell yourself “This too shall pass.”

I love the phrase “This too shall pass” because it not only tells you that the hardship will end but that good times will end as well. I know that sounds bad but you can turn it into something good. In the tough times, it will give you hope. You have survived every hardship in your life and you will get through this. When you have good times, let yourself know that it will pass as well. You will learn to cherish the good times way more and prepare yourself for bad times. Soon you will notice that the good times last a whole lot longer and the bad moments tend to subside much quicker.

2. Remind yourself that this is part of life and you can learn something from it.

“Smooth seas don’t make skilled sailors”. You will have tough moments but look for the learning experience, look for the good in every situation. Every moment is a learning experience and will help you grow. You are a student, remember. Learning is practically your job and this is no different. Find something that you can learn about in your situation and grow from it. This lesson has helped me to reduce my mistakes significantly. When things go wrong, you will always be able to learn something from it.

3. “Look for the Honey”

Tiger Beside Green Plants Standing on Brown Land during Daytime

There is a Buddhist story about a man being chased by a tiger and falls off a cliff. https://medium.com/age-of-awareness/the-tiger-and-the-strawberry-b73de1dccf19. I have a different version that was shared with me and I will share with you now. A man was walking through the forest, when all of a sudden, a tiger jumps out and starts chasing the man. The man (obviously and Olympic runner lol) starts running as fast as he can through the forest until he gets to a cliff. The man sees a vine of the side of the cliff and grabs hold of it, hanging off. He looks down and sees a huge King Cobra below him, and above him, he sees the very hungry tiger. The man, knowing he’s going to die, starts looking for a possible way out, but can’t seem to find one.

White Snake on Brown Soil

It gets worse

Closeup Photo of Tan Rat

All of a sudden, he sees two mice come out from a hole in the side of the cliff and start to eat away at the vine. OH NO!!!!!! The man is in a really bad situation. He looks up at the tiger and then notices that the tiger is scraping a tree, which the vine is connected to. In that tree, there was a beehive right above the man with honey flowing out every time the tiger scraped the tree. The man, not knowing what else to do, put out his tongue and caught a bit of honey that fell and it was the best tasting honey that he ever had. The end.

“But Ben, what happens next? Did the man survive? I have so many questions!!!!” I will answer all of those questions in a bit but I want to share something first. The man was in such a tough spot but he looked for something good, even when he was close to death. In situations where you are (figuratively) the man, look for the honey. Find good in everything. You are in grad school and things will get tough but know that there is always something good in every situation.

Ok, so the tiger was reaching over really far and lost his grip, falling down right on the king cobra, killing them both. On the way down, the tiger hit the vine, causing the mice to fall as well but they survived because I want some happy ending for the little woodland creatures. The man climbed up and went home to his family. He survived.

Final Thought

This brings up my last point I want to make in this blog. The future is uncertain. Sometimes we get caught up thinking that the bad times will continue. When really, we have no clue what will happen next. Bad situations can lead to surprising outcomes that you would not have thought were possible. When things go wrong, especially in grad school, reassure yourself that this may lead to something you weren’t expecting. It can lead to something possibly life changing, and man that’s exciting. To quote the greatest character, “You will have bad time, but these will always wake you up to the stuff you weren’t paying attention to”.

Have a great day.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Grad School Fitness on a Budget

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Let me start off by assuming that you are like me….and poor. I don’t mean “living on ramen noodles poor” though. I mean making enough money to get by but also not enough to save up for the future or buy a house, like every single person I went to school with is :(. Grad school is tough and much tougher with the stipend that we are given. This adds even more stress to our lives that we can’t afford to have. Well, this blog post is for the all of the grad school students that want to get fit without having to stress about money, high gym cost (I saw one where its $50 a month 0.o), or those very expensive stationary bikes that I made the mistake of looking up their price. No, you can get fit and not have to worry about spending that much money at all. I will include some links to things that I think are essential for the grad school fitness

First off, if you are able to use the local school gyms, or apartment gyms, do it! Technically, you are paying for those gyms so take full advantage of them. They can get crowded though, especially school gyms. This is a main reason that I hear, at work, why people tend to just workout at home or outside. Totally valid reason so the rest of this post is for those that don’t want to go to the gym.


Do stadium workouts or track workouts. You can really do a million different workouts at the stadium and or on a track. Usually schools will have one available to you to workout at. If not, find yourself an open field. For these workouts, you can do body exercises or even incorporate resistance training as well. I bought these resistance bands and they have been amazing, especially when everything was closed during the pandemic. Using these will help to build muscle and lose weight, which is always a plus. If you can, go on YouTube and look up resistance band exercises. There are a million to choose from. I recommend HASfit (https://www.youtube.com/user/KozakSportsPerform). I followed all of their exercises and saw significant results.


Yoga is a big thing in college. All of the yoga classes tend to fill up so quickly. I guess people really enjoy it? I tried it and it kicked my butt, mostly because I was not used to stretching in weird ways and I used muscles that I had never used. If you want to do some yoga and don’t want to go to classes because….covid, then I suggest getting a yoga mat and watching more YouTube videos. Man, YouTube is amazing. I bought this mat and I watch MadFit https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpQ34afVgk8cRQBjSJ1xuJQ. She is super good and extremely challenging. If you want ab workouts, she’s the one to watch. There are also a hundred more yoga instructors on the site that you can check out.

Weighted Sandbag

If you are like me, you love lifting heavy weights. This is a bit tricky to do without a gym, but if you want to spend a little more, I recommend getting a weighted sandbag like this. I bought one along with the resistance band and Oh My! I believe mine goes up to 45 pounds, so it’s a pretty significant amount of weight. You fill smaller sand bags and stuff them inside a much larger bag so the weight can be adjustable. This was a great buy! I specifically like it for arm workouts as well as back and shoulder workouts.


The last little bit of exercise “equipment” that I want to share are posters. They have posters that go over different exercises that you can do with weights, resistance bands, bodyweight, etc. I have quite a few in my office at school that I studied prior to getting my personal training certification. These were the ones that I got (link). These are great because they help you visualize a workout and expose you to many different other workouts that you may have never seen or heard of. They are fairly cheap and super helpful.

I hope these suggestions help a tiny bit. If you want some advice from me, reach out and I will happily help. Most importantly, just stay active. It helps in more ways than you can think of. Trust me when I say that staying active in grad school is not just essential for your physical health, but also or your mental health. I have been in grad school for a very long time so I know 😛

See ya later everyone

My Favorite Things on Days I Feel Sad

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Sadness comes and goes throughout life. Somedays you wake up and are just sad for no reason. Other times, something just happens to put you in a bad mood. Lately, I’ve been feeling a little down and I think it is because of how rainy it has been in Florida. I love the rain but honestly haven’t seen the sun in about 2 weeks. I am going to keep this blog post a bit shorter today and just list off about 11 things I do to get over the “slumps”. So here is a list of things I do when I feel sad. Here we go!

  1. Sit Outside with a cup of coffee and read about coffee. I like to sip on French Vanilla or Hazelnut
  2. Go on a walk
  3. Just run around
  4. Watch Harry Potter (for the 10000000000th time)
  5. Next, Watch a Disney movie……after Harry Potter of course
  6. Bake a dessert
  7. Call up a relative or friend to talk
  8. Go on the internet and blog for people
  9. Read all of the amazing comments that people have for said blogs
  10. Count all of my blessing and really be grateful for what I have
  11. Talk to my Therapist.
  12. Find ways to motivate myself. I have been trying Ineedmotivation.com

Bonus: Play with 2 very cute puppies that refuse to fall asleep (What I am currently doing)

There are probably a million other things that help to bring me out of a sad mood but these puppies are just so darn cute and I can’t think of anything else. What do you guys do when you are sad? Let me know in the comments.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Let’s Talk about Anxiety Triggers

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Grad school can be one of the best few years of your life. It can also be one of the worst times. For me, I can definitely tell you that I have had a wonderful time because I have learned to accept the good and bad moments. It took me a great while to be OK with hearing the word “no” all of the time, or having terrible days in the lab (I blame those days on the ghost that haunts it). Before therapy, I would have panic attacks almost weekly. They weren’t as severe as the very first one that I had but very close. My heart races, I get sweaty and shaky, and my thoughts get out of control. I brought this up to my therapist and she assured me that I am not alone and that I did a great job at describing what a panic attack actually was. Learning this made me think that something was wrong with me but she also let me know that there are millions of people who have this and are coping with it just fine. That was slightly comforting but alarming as well since I wouldn’t wish this upon anyone.

The next plan of action was to determine what set these states of panic off and if there was an underlying cause for my anxiety. Turns out, I had many. First of all, I am a worrier. I have been told my whole life that I worry too much and think of all of the bad things that can happen in my life. That was trigger #1. Whenever something happened, I would think of the worst possible outcome and that would lead to sooooooo much anxiety. It was something I needed to work on. My therapist suggested that I use my hand to help out. If you are unfamiliar with this practice, it entails you holding up your hand and assign different scenarios to each finger. For me, I think of the best possible outcome in a situation and assign it to my pinky. The worst outcome that I can think of goes to my thumb, and combinations of good and bad outcomes go to my middle three fingers. The middle three fingers are the more likely outcomes that will occur in any given situation. Having a visual helped significantly since, well, I am a visual person. Who knew? ;P

Trigger #2 was my sense of perfectionism. There’s one thing about grad school that everyone should be taught at the beginning and that is, if it’s good enough, it’s finished. Chasing after a perfect paper, a perfect poster, or anything perfect is completely unattainable. Grad school is a training experience and perfection just takes way too much time. I was chasing that dream of having a Nobel Prize winning research proposal/manuscript. My god that does not exist. Once I learned that good enough, was good enough, I was able to relax. I still struggle with this since I do want to give my best work, but I am in the last year of my doctorate so I can’t spend too much time perfecting everything.

Trigger #3 was being alone with my thoughts. This one is by far the scariest one. The pandemic definitely did not help because I was alone even more. Grad school is extremely isolating and lonely, so there’s plenty of time to be alone in your head. This is why half of PhD students won’t graduate. The best thing I ever did was take up meditation. This has helped to calm my mind and actually train it to not pester me with obnoxious and flat out wrong ideas. When I am not able to control the thoughts and I start to have anxiety, I’ll go on a walk or go to the gym. You can’t really think of anything when you’re gasping for air from running or doing squats lol.

Let me know the things that cause you anxiety and how you cope. I am interested in how people live with anxiety. Hopefully you found this to be enlightening or just somewhat entertaining. I’ll see you all in the next blog


**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

How To Handle Anxiety in Grad School

This post about anxiety in grad school may contain affiliate links. For more information see disclosure at bottom of home page

I used to have to see a therapist because my anxiety was getting way too bad. Fortunately, my health insurance covered the use of Talkspace for no additional cost, and I took full advantage of that. Another great site to use in Online-Therapy. I highly recommend either Talkspace or Online-Therapy. My therapist was so helpful and really changed the way that I look at anxiety. She told me that there are a few things that you should always do when having a panic attack, and I would like to share these with you guys. These are 5 methods that have helped me deal with anxiety.

5 Ways to Handle Your Anxiety in Grad School

I am not a therapist but I did go to therapy for a year because my anxiety was too much to bare in grad school. I would have trouble concentrating,. Also, I would essentially worry about everything and it was affecting my work in a negative way. Talkin g with many of my grad school friends, I found that anxiety pretty much affects everyone in grad school. This and imposter syndrome are two really negative things that you’ll probably face while trying to complete your master’s or PhD. Today, I want to go over some helpful ways in which I was able to handle my anxiety and move passed it. In fact, my anxiety decreased so much that I don’t need therapy anymore. These methods do work, and, if you are up for the challenge, you should try them out.

1. Give your anxiety a name

My anxiety was called Ang. She told me to do this because it convinces your brain that anxiety is a thing and not just a state of mind. Then you can “stand up” to it like you would a bully. I have used this method a few times, mostly to acknowledge that my anxiety is there. It may seem like a silly exercise, but it truly works.

Giving your anxiety a name almost makes it a tangible thing. You can call it names, put it down, and make it feel less powerful over you. I find this method is a good thing to do if you just feel a tiny bit of anxiety coming on. Sometimes while I am walking to class, I’ll feel a bit of anxiety. I go “Hey Ang, thanks for showing up but I don’t really want to hang out right now.” I would say that about 60% of the time, it goes away. It is a cool method and I am glad my therapist taught me it.

2. Keep exercising no matter what

I walk a ton throughout the day and do my virtual races (see my previous posts). I also go to the gym almost every day. Staying active decreases muscle tension and diverts you from what you are so anxious about. I mean, you can’t really be worrying about something if your doing stadiums lol.

Exercise is a great way to relieve stress and stay energetic. It is also a great way to combat anxiety. Sometimes you are just absolutely drained. Exercise is hard but to do when you are tired but it is essential to combat anxiety. Exercise has been shown to ease depression and anxiety. So keep on exercising people!

3. Meditate and practice mindfulness

This was a major point that my therapist brought up. Train your mind to be able to cope with things and to be able to calm down in situations where you are anxious. This is a daily activity but so beneficial. I try and meditate right after lunch each day, using my Headspace app. I have seen such a reduction in the severity of my panic attacks and anxious moments. Even last week I prevented a huge panic attack because of meditation. I will have another blog post going over methods to do this so hold on a bit 🙂

Here’s a great book if you are interested https:/amzn.to/3vSo8HR

4. Cognitive Behavior Therapy for Anxiety in Grad School.

Look this bad boy up on the computer RIGHT NOW! This has saved my life multiple times and I am such a genuine person now because of it. This method focuses on changing cognitive distortions and behaviors by challenging your thoughts. There are so many YouTube videos on this so I won’t get into too much detail, but just know that it works but it takes time. Remember that this is a marathon, not a race.

According to the Clinical Guideline for treatment of Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, cognitive behavioral therapy is “is a form of psychological treatment that has been demonstrated to be effective for a range of problems including depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.” They also emphasize that the science is there and this method works.

5. Be kind to yourself

I think this may be the most important thing that you could ever possibly do. We have some really unrealistic expectations of ourselves and beat ourselves up if we don’t meet those expectations. My grad school marathon has been just that and I was miserable. I found that being kind to myself, laughing when I mess up, and being kind to others has helped me become less anxious and happier.

Final Thoughts

These are just a few of the many methods you can try. I hope that at least one works out for you. Remember, if you have questions about this, message me. I would absolutely love to talk about it. Don’t just deal with anxiety, learn to live harmoniously with it.

**If you or someone you know is suffering from mental health issues, I highly recommend that they seek help. Online-Therapy.com or TalkSpace.com are great ways to reach out to a licensed therapist and get the help needed. Therapy has 100% helped me and I know it can help you.

Personal Training in Grad School: Advice

I want to give a little bit of insight when it comes to staying fit in college. First things first, don’t eat garbage food!!! That’s as much as I am allowed to say on that subject since I am a personal trainer and not a dietician. When it comes to staying fit in college, exercise is a major factor. You need to stay as active as you possibly can because the freshman 15 is a real thing. Here are a few things you can do to stay active:

1.Walk everywhere

Walking is by far the best thing that you can do during your college days because you do it every day, already. I joined a virtual walking app where it gives you a medal when you finish a certain distance. Check it out https://www.theconqueror.events/.

2. Go to the gym

I am a personal trainer so I definitely push for this. Gyms in college can be a scary place at first but know that everyone cares about themselves and not what you are doing. Start off slow by maybe just touring the facility or going on the treadmill. This gets you introduced to the gym and accustomed to it. Soon you’ll be going there every day, lifting crazy amounts of weight!

3. Find a workout partner

I was lucky enough to have my friend push me to going to the gym at 6 am each morning. God that sucked but was totally worth it. Finding a reliable workout partner is a bit difficult, but if you do, they are invaluable. You can do workouts with them at home, outside, at the gym, in your garage, anywhere. They will keep you motivated and you can keep them motivated too.

4. Take up a club sport

Intramural sports are amazing. Club sports are amazing. Sports are just amazing!!! I joined flag football prior to the pandemic. I made a ton of friends doing it and it was such a good stress reliever. Grad school can be super demanding and you need time to just not think about it. Joining a sport is the way to go.

If you happen to have any more suggestions, please comment. I would love to know how you stay active in school. Cheers!!!!

Why I started a Blog

So you might be wondering, “Ben, you are a scientist, not a writer! Why are you blogging?” I’ll tell you why. I am currently in my last year as a grad student and writing has become such an important part of my day that I almost consider myself a writer and not a scientist. I have written paper after paper, hoping to get at least one published. By creating a blog, I am able to hone my writing skills and, hopefully, better convey the science that I am doing.

Writing has been such a great outlet for me as well. I am able to express my emotions through writing and it has helped me significantly drive back anxiety and depression. I put on coffee shop music, sit down, and just write whatever is on my mind. Sometimes, I write scholarly articles/manuscripts. Other times, I just write gibberish and hope that no one sees it. Either way, It has helped to make me feel accomplished as well as helped to keep my attention on something (my attention span is garbage). I have just begun my journey and I hope this leads into something greater. Even if I suck at it, at least I will be proud that I started.

“Dude, sucking at something is the first step to being sort of good at something”-Jake the Dog

What I do

So I have been working on an EPA funded project that deals with lead contamination in environmental settings, particularly potable water sources. The ultimate goal is to build upon a modelling system that predicts how sick a child will get from lead exposure in household settings. Our team deals with the lead that comes from lead service lines, copper fittings, and solder. We analyze the amount of lead that comes out of lead pipes by subjecting the pipes to different water characteristics such as changes in pH, alkalinity, dissolved organic compounds, dissolved inorganic carbon, and phosphate. The pipes that we used contain a mineral compound on the inside of the pipe called “scales”. these scales are minerals that have been created to protect the pipe from corrosion. We want to know how they react under different water conditions. 

The other part of our project deals with identifying sources of lead in the environment through the use of lead isotope ratio analysis. This basically gives a fingerprint to lead sources by looking at their isotopic composition. Then we take blood samples from individuals exposed to areas with high concentrations of lead and see if the isotopic composition of the lead in their blood matches that from an environmental setting. 

It’s freaking cool science. Plus, I get to work with some state-of-the-art, and quite expensive, equipment. I would love to go more into the data I have collected once I get it published. Hopefully people read this blog and ask questions. I love being able to teach people the stuff I do and also gain feedback. It allows me to grow and thrive in the scientific world.

My Fitness Journey

 I love to work out. I mean, I LOVVVVVVEEEEE to work out mostly because it makes me feel like I accomplished something for that day. I do mostly lifting but I do kill myself some days and have a “fitness class” stadium session. First off, if you are not familiar with stadiums, they are practically the devil’s work. You run up and down these really steep bleachers and pretend like you are enjoying it. I am fortunate enough to have Ben Hill Griffin Stadium right down the street from me so I go there to do workouts. I usually just run up and down the stairs and then maybe do lunges or pushups.

 My fitness class that I spoke about early consists of a few friends and sometimes some coworkers. I am a certified personal trainer so of course my friends want me to teach them workouts. This is a ton of effort, but honestly, I love it. Plus I get to make them run up and down stairs, so if they are mean to me, I can retaliate (lol). 

We have two gyms on campus that I frequently go to. There is SW Rec and Student Rec. SW Rec is by far the superior gym, but it’s packed constantly. Student Rec is a nice little gym that has everything I need. I will usually take about an hour and a half lunch break and go over there to get a workout in. This is the beauty of being in grad school, I can go do stuff whenever I want, for however long I want. 

As I said earlier, I am a certified personal trainer. I do not really train people for money right now, but hopefully I can in the fall. UF’s RecSports hires personal trainers each year and that is what I am aiming to do. I took their course last fall and they offered me a position as a Wellness Associate. It’s a fun job and I get to interact with a ton of people. It is also like 1 or 2 days a week so it does not interfere with my PhD duties. I will definitely blog more about workouts and what I do. Honestly, I workout so much because grad school is stressful and this is an outlet. I made sure it’s not an outlet that becomes an addiction, though. Hope you guys are enjoying my blogs so far.


Last one for the night.

I feel like a good place to begin is how I stumbled upon the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. I honestly cannot remember why I was looking for Buddhist teachings, but man was this one of the best things for me. Ajahn Brahm is an amazing monk who has extremely powerful stories that teach kindness, compassion, love, and everything in between. I was probably trying to find videos on how to reduce anxiety to be honest, and found his videos on how to reduce anxiety and live life to the fullest. He has been such an influence in most things that I do and how I think about issues. I am a much more optimistic person now that I follow his teachings. I will post a link below to one of his videos. I’ll write more about how he has helped during grad school as well as other videos that I find extremely helpful. 


Mindfulness and Love throughout grad school

The part about grad school that people do not like to talk about is how isolating and lonely it is. I am particularly talking about the doctorate program. So you are supposed to do independent research, on something that few people even know about, then publish it all by yourself (with the help f your adviser as well :p). That’s a lot of pressure and work. On top of this, you do it practically in the confines of your office, alone. This is what I have been dealing with for the past year. It can become extremely lonely and very easy to slip down into a deep dark hole of depression. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love what I do, but sometimes it becomes too much. Grad school is a weird space between being a professional and being a college student. You do extremely difficult tasks, day after day, yet you get paid as much as a dish washer in a restaurant. It’s also very hard for others to relate to what you are going through, therefore adding to the isolation. 

I have a few YouTube channels that I want to share that have significantly helped with feelings of isolation. Of course I will start with the Buddhist Society of Western Australia. They are wonderful and really help to show gratitude and kindness. It is so easy to be a grumpy gills all of the time, but watching some of their talks has really changed my perspective and outlook on life. 


The next is R3ciprocity. Dr. David Maslach is amazingly helpful with any problems that you may have in graduate school. He even has an editing team to help correct errors in manuscripts, if that is something you are interested in. He oes over practically every issue that I have had and comes up with easy solutions. 


The last channel I want to bring up is fairly new to me. I had been seeing a therapist, weekly, for about a year when one day she said I was good to just see her once every month. I was sooooo happy because it meant that I was getting better. Therapy has been an amzaing experience and I suggest every grad student do it. Well, the next month came, and she did respond to any of my messages or calls. She left the therapy platform I was using so I was out of a therapist :(. Luckily, I found some pretty good videos with therapists that have help a ton. My favorite is Therapy in a Nutshell. The channel is run by a Emma McAdam, who is by far one of the best therapists on the platform. I highly recommend checking her channel out.