Moving While in Grad School: The Art of Not Going Insane

I have had to move every single year that I have been in grad school. Most of the time it was not my choice but due to some outside factor. This year is the exact same thing. Yesterday was my final day at one of the coolest places that I have lived. To say that I will miss living there is an understatement. Moving is not fun at all and can be quite stressful, especially for those in graduate school that might not be able to take time off work to move out.

This blog is for those people/students that are required to move out while doing experiments or continuously work through the process. I am under the experiment category as well as the “my qualifying exam is next week” category. If you are unfamiliar with what a qualifying exam is, it is basically an oral presentation and written exam to qualify to be a PhD candidate. It is also referred to as a candidacy exam. So moving out is not the best thing to do right now. Oh well, that’s life and I am trying to enjoy it the whole way through. But, if you find yourself in a situation like mine, here are a few tips that can help with the move out.

  1. Plan ahead. Start cleaning up and boxing up things way in advance so you are not scrambling at the last minute. This will reduce stress and probably save you hours of valuable experimentation time. I promise you, start early.
  2. When looking at your stuff, purge the things you don’t use. This will help with overall stress and anxiety, plus getting rid of stuff is really good for your mental health. If you haven’t used it in the last year, get rid of it. By get rid of it, either sell or donate the items. Someone probably needs it more than you.
  3. Ask for help. My roommates helped a ton and so did my friends. DO not do the move alone. This can be pretty bad plus it is not as fun as moving with the help of someone else. Always make sure to feed them and maybe pay them some money, though. Moving is difficult and their help is quite valuable. Pizza is always a good option!!
  4. Buy a ton of cleaning products. You will need to clean, and clean a lot. Make sure to get paper towels and good cleaning sprays. Do not mix them!!!!! I got bleach for the bathroom and then fabuloso for the kitchen and bedroom. You need to clean everything pretty well because you want that security deposit back $$$.
  5. Take time to relax too. Moving is super stressful and quite exhausting, mentally and physically. Make sure to take breaks and take them often. You need the energy and mental focus to be able to finish the job before the landlord comes and kicks you out.
  6. While working, play some good music. I tend to put on fast paced music which really gets me moving. Moving stuff is almost like going to the gym. You’ll be lifting stuff, running around, grunting, swearing, and sweating like a pig. Yep, practically a gym workout.
  7. Pack everything into boxes and label them. This is so important because you will lose items in the process of moving. Get organized and use boxes to stay organized. When you unpack, you’ll know exactly what is where and that will cause less stress later.
  8. If you are going to get a storage unit or U-Haul, book them early. My roommate made this mistake and waited until 3 days before moveout to see if there were storage units available or U-hauls. NOPE. All gone. Luckily our landlord is letting him keep his stuff at the current house until he moves to the next house. Some landlords are just awesome.
  9. Make sure to cancel the utilities. You don’t want to have to keep paying even after you are gone. Trust me, it’s not fun getting extra bills.
  10. Make sure to save up money prior to moving. It can get expensive for sure. Save money from your last few paychecks specifically for moving out. It is a must.

Bonus: Have Fun! I can’t stress this enough. Have fun with moving. You will associate moving with a good time later down when you have to do it again and it will make things way easier for you. Honestly, have fun with everything you do in life. Being stressed out all of the time is terrible and you don’t need that in your life.

Anyway, I hope that your move-out is easy and stress free. Mine was easy because I did exactly what I wrote about. If it worked for me, it will work for you. See ya next time.

Giving Presentations in Grad School

Some say that the scariest thing you will do in life is give grad school presentations. Something about standing in front of a ton of people and talking scares the pants off of most people. I remember talking to a few of my classmates and they brought up that Speech class was one of the only classes they needed to do to graduate, and they were putting it off until the last semester because it scared them. I, fortunately, love giving presentations. i love talking about a subject that I am passionate about to a ton of people. Yes, I feel nervous and scared, but the feeling after giving the presentation is totally worth it. You feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders, and you are almost weightless. Such an amazing feeling.

You can do it

I have always been very comfortable standing in front of people and talking to them. Ironically, the most anxiety inducing thing that I refuse to do is talk to someone I don’t know on the phone. This is a common fear that I am slowly working on.

When you are in grad school, you will give a ton of presentations. Some on subjects you like, others on things you are not familiar with or just don’t care about. The biggest presentation and probably the scariest one, other than the qualifying exam presentation, is your thesis defense. This is the culmination of all of your hard work given as a presentation to people that are the best in their fields. It’s tough, but most people pass so your chances of graduating are fairly high.

Helpful List

I get it, giving presentations are hard, but they don’t need to be with some tips and tricks. I use these tips every time that I present, no matter how long.

  1. Create a PowerPoint presentation and practice it way beforehand. This means creating it days before, possible weeks before, and just getting so familiar with the slides that you don’t even need to look at them to know what it includes.
  2. Write notes. When you aren’t quite in the “groove” while presenting, take a look at your notes. They will help you stay on track and make you very organized and not all over the place.
  3. Make eye contact, if you are comfortable, if not, look at someone’s forehead. I like making eye contact to make sure my audience did not fall asleep. Other people prefer looking at the back of the room or someone’s forehead. That’s fine too as long as you are scanning the room. Do not just stare at one person the entire time. That’s just weird.
  4. Bring humor into the presentation. Tell a joke or bring up something funny. It will keep the audience engaged and make you more comfortable. No one wants to watch a boring presentation anyway. Have fun with it.
  5. Breathe! Deep breathes beforehand will calm your nerves and help you not sound nervous.
  6. Practice in front of friends first. You will get used to presenting in front of multiple people and you will feel comfortable. Use the feeling of comfort and try and feel that before giving the actual presentation.
  7. Bring water. When you are talking, you may lose track of where you are, on the PowerPoint as well as your notes. This is a good time to drink water because you can stall for time to get back into your groove. Also, it is good to stay hydrated.
  8. Lastly, have fun with it. It is a scary moment but a vital one. If you don’t have fun, you’ll associate all presentations with bad experiences. You do not want to do this. Have fun, learn a lot, and just be yourself. The presentation will be amazing because you are amazing.

I hope this list helps a bit. My qualifying presentation is next week so I will be using my own advice fairly soon. I hope you have an amazing day/week/month and I will see you guys in the next blog.

Am I Doing the Right Thing? Feeling Lost in Grad School

Hey everyone! Today’s post is going to be a little shorter than usual, I think. I just wanted to write about something that I have been dealing with a lot and one method to help calm my overactive mind. Grad school has me lost. I honestly don’t know what I want to do after graduation, and you know what? I am totally alright with that. I realized that life is constantly changing and it is totally ok not to know what to do next.

One thing that really has me a bit concerned, well not now, but at first, was seeing all of my friends getting jobs, making good money. I make enough to feed my cat, and that’s good enough for me lol. But I did notice that they weren’t that happy. I was quite perplexed until i heard about a little activity you can do to kind of see if maybe you are doing what you love, or close to it. The exercise is imagining you are talking with your 10 year old self. Describe what you do for a living to them. See how your 10 year old self reacts. Are they proud of you? Are they concerned? Do they look angry? Just try and picture this.

I did this exercise and realized that what I do now, I truly believe 10 year old Ben would have thought was the coolest thing ever. I do science, math, workout, all of that. 10 year old Ben loved all of those things. This really helped me realize that I am not lost at all, I am right where I need to be at the this time in my life.

Life is constantly changing and so are you. You will find your place eventually, then one day, what you thought was the right thing for you will change and you’ll find another road to take. I find this to be the most exciting part of life, the change. I wonder what 40 year old Ben will be like!

**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.

YouTube Channels You Need to Subscribe to if You are a Grad Student

I am quite the visual learner. Reading things and then learning from that is quite difficult for me and sometimes impossible. I need a visual to get me going in the right direction.

Grad school has a ton of very difficult concepts to learn that some find difficult to grasp just from reading it. Math, Chemistry, Physics, you name it, it’s just downright difficult o read about it and then go off and do it. YouTube has been my best friend when trying to learn these concepts. I use it daily to figure out problems as well as just entertainment, of course. It is also very useful to give you motivation during the grad school journey as well as teach you mindfulness (I have to bring this in since my site is about mindfulness ;)). Here are a few channels that I subscribed too that are extremely helpful when going through grad school.

  1. R3ciprocity

So R3ciprocity was created by Dr. Dave Maslach to help students with peer review and grammar. It is an awesome website and I will definitely use it for my dissertation. His channel is so uplifting and he really cares about grad students and getting them through the academic process. Go check out his website and YouTube channel.

2. Andy Stapleton’s Channel

He has amazing advice for grad students and people pursuing a PhD. He has a ton of extremely helpful videos that tackle literally every aspect of grad school that you can think of. He also tells it how it is and does not sugarcoat anything. He’s also quite funny.

3. Therapy in a Nutshell

Emma McAdam is a licensed marriage and family therapist that really knows her stuff. If you are suffereing from anxiety, depression, just sadness, or if you are even happy and ready to take on the day, she has helpful advice for you. I tend to listen to her talk on my long drives to Miami from Gainesville. She gives great advice to cope with your feelings and quite a few tips that I have blogged about come from her videos.

4. Thoughty2

This channel is awesome and super entertaining. Thoughty2 talks about weird and quirky things that have happened throughout history and goes into quite a lot of detail. He is super funny and the videos are great to watch on your lunch break. There’s a ton of information that he brings up so it is a good learning experience as well.

5. Simon Clark’s Channel

Simon was a PhD student when he started vlogging. He has since graduated and is off teaching the world about his expertise in climate science. I found his videos extremely helpful when starting my PhD. He had very similar problems that I had/have and went about explaining how he overcame those obstacles. He’s a great individual and his videos are super high quality.

These are some channels that I truly believe will help you a bit more during grad school. They have helped me all the way until now and I know I will continue watching them even after my doctorate is over. Let me know in the comments some channels that you are subscribed to that are worth checking out.

Loneliness in Grad School: What I Do to Combat it

I find it funny how loneliness is such a major contributor to my anxiety, yet, I haven’t really made a post about it. I have talked about it a bit but haven’t given it its own blog post. So, let’s dive deeper into loneliness while you are in grad school, especially in a doctorate program.

Loneliness, to me, is one of the worst feelings that I get. When I feel lonely, things just appear off to me. Colors seem to change and get duller, happiness tends to go away, and an overall sense of sadness kicks in. It is very close to what my depression felt like but not nearly as bad. It is still extremely uncomforting. I used to talk to my therapist all of the time about how lonely I felt, even when I was around a ton of friends. I felt isolated from the world and there wasn’t much I could do to prevent this feeling. My therapist would always reassure me and tell me that this is a common occurrence among grad students. I wanted to know why and I eventually found out.

One obvious reason you will feel lonely is because you will be by yourself quite often. You will be in the lab by yourself, writing by yourself, and possibly even going home to be by yourself. I know many grad students that live alone so they often really feel lonely. Another reason you will experience loneliness is because the project that you are working on is not well known. Maybe it is, but more than likely people will not know what you are doing or why you are doing this. It is hard to talk about it with people because they just won’t understand what you are doing and don’t really relate to the very different struggles that grad students face. I find it extremely isolating to bring up grad school with my family because they just don’t know what questions to ask or give advice, since they have not been in my position before.

There is hope! You don’t have to feel lonely if you learn to love the time you spend by yourself. I tell myself all of the time that i might be alone, but I am not lonely. I have to truly believe it though and I have gotten to the point where I definitely am believing it. Being alone can be extremely comforting if you look at it as a positive experience. Next time you are alone, doing experiments or just in your office, say out loud (yes out loud), “Sweet, I am alone. That means I won’t have distractions and will get my work done” or “Being alone is awesome because I don’t have to deal with nasty people”. Of course you can come up with whatever you want but make sure it is positive. I often say “Great, I am alone. Now I can watch a movie without being interrupted”. I watch movies every other Tuesday, while in the lab. If someone else was here, I couldn’t enjoy that time.

Make friends with other grad students. I know this is a bit of a difficult one but you just need to do it. other grad students will know exactly what you are going through. They often feel the same way and a friend will help you feel less lonely. It will also help them feel less lonely. I have made several grad school friends and they all have moments of loneliness. I get texts from them all of the time when they are alone, just reaching out to feel less lonely. It is comforting to know you have someone to talk to.

Use the time that you have by yourself to mediate and find inner peace. Being alone is a great time to just “be”. Be in the moment, be in solitude, and really dig deep into who you are. You can find out a ton about yourself that you didn’t even know. This advice is scary because often people what to distract themselves from themselves. This will lead to problems later on. Meditation can be a great experience to reduce loneliness because you won’t be alone, you’ll be with the best person in your life, yourself. I have used meditation to figure out underlying issues in my life and am a better person for it.

I hope you don’t experience loneliness while you’re in grad school, but if you do, I hope you find this helpful. Grad school is long but it can be fun. You just need to put in some work and you can create an awesome experience for yourself.

So You Got a Cat in Grad School: Best Purchases For Them

Making decisions in the moment can be super stressful and down right anxiety inducing. One of the “spur-of-the-moment” things that I did 2 years ago was adopt my cat, Sirius. It amazes me how, at the time, well a little bit after the moment I adopted him, I thought it was a bad idea. I let fear and anxiety take over and really cause me to rethink my choice. If I could, I’d go back in time and slap my past self and tell him that getting a pet was the best thing you’ve done in grad school. Getting a cat is a big responsibility, but ultimately, an amazing choice. I would do anything for my little guy. Anyway, if you just so happened to get yourself a kitty in college, here are some toys and things that I bought him that make him happy, my furniture happy (no claw marks), as well as me happy, along with my budget.

  1. A SmartCat Pioneer Pet Scratch Post

Best investment ever! It will set you back about $50 but it’s worth 1000x’s that amount. Sirius’s claw’s are sharp and my arms, legs, chest, and face can tell you that lol. This scratch post keeps him from clawing at furniture in my house, which is a major plus since the furniture belongs to my roommates. I put this first because this is most important.

2. A cat shelf

I specifically got Sirius this one. He absolutely loves climbing onto these and hiding behind the plants. It also acts as a scratch board so he doesn’t scratch anything else. You can see that scratch boards are very important.\

3. Plush Flopping Fish

Oh man, this is a good one. It is rechargeable and he goes crazy for this toy, mostly because there is catnip in it. Sirius will spend most of the day cuddling it on his hammock too. I have some great pictures. Here’s one.

Image

4. Cat Hammock

I purrrrsonally got Sirius this one, though I believe any hammock would be just fine. He only sleeps in the hammock. I put a blanket on it to keep him warm and that’s all he needs. The window hammocks are the best because he gets to look out and see the birds and people outside from the comfort of a bed. A win-win.

5. Bird feeder

I got him a suction cup bird feeder that keeps him entertained for hours. I am usually at the office for a good amount of time so I want him entertained until I can come home and play with him. This is the perfect thing to get and you also attract a ton of cool birds as well as squirrels.

6. Cat Spiral Springs

I buy Sirius super fancy toys like feather toys, roller coaster circuit toys, as well as a cat tunnel, but his favorite toy is just a simple spring that he can hit around. Honestly, just get your cat a wire tie and they are good to go for the day. Super simple and effective.

These are things that I feel cat owners should buy. They have worked pretty well for me and my cat loves them. If you are a grad student and work long hours, I would strongly suggest getting something like what I have shown above to keep your furry friend happy until you get home. Let me know what you buy your cat to keep them entertained and happy.

Learn to Say “NO” In Grad School

You will have so many opportunities in grad school as well as life and you need to pick and choose what you do. One of the biggest lessons that I learned in the five years that I have been a graduate student is when to say “no”.

As I said, you will have soooooo many opportunities in graduate school. These will be going to conferences, writing papers, doing extra experiments, taking up part time jobs, and maybe even teaching a class. There are probably way more opportunities for you as well. These are just a few that I was offered.

The main reason you are in grad school is to learn, to become a scholar and researcher. This needs to be your main focus. I have a hard time saying no to many things that cross my path. I have a part-time job even though it may cause me to get behind on many projects. I blog, though blogging is actually extremely helpful and allows me to express myself as well as gain valuable writing experience. So blogging is a good thing that I took up. I have said yes to doing extra papers, more experiments, and even peer reviewing a whole dissertation because I could not say “no”.

Picking the right things to say yes to is almost a skill in itself. We often say yes to too much because we fear missing out on opportunities. This will cause us to take on way too many responsibilities all at once and will eventually lead to burn out. Now if you have not experienced burnout then I envy you. I experienced it pretty badly in undergrad and, for a few months, just getting out of bed was difficult. My grades suffered, my mental health and physical health suffered, and I was tired all of the time. Luckily, I was able to get back into things and continue on, but I can definitely see how people leave college after burn out.

Grad school has too many added stresses which makes this way more common. By taking on too much, you risk burn out a lot sooner.

Saying no to some things will cause your mental health to strengthen, you’ll have more energy, and you will finish on time. I wish I could go back and say “no” more often to my younger self, but if I said no, I probably wouldn’t be here, writing about it, helping others learn what I have learned. I suppose it wasn’t so bad after all, for you, the reader, not me lol. I will definitely learn when to say “yes” and when to say “no”. I am quite certain that my overall health will improve and I believe that I will finish my doctorate on time.

There is always one thing to say yes to, in my opinion, and that is anything that will help you strengthen your mental state. Say yes to therapy. Say yes to exercise. Say yes to eating right. At the same time, say no to those things that will stress you out so much that you burn out. Life is too short to be so stressed out.

I hope you guys have a great night. I will see you in the next blog.

How I Prevent Panic Attacks

One thing that I, unfortunately, deal with are panic attacks. I can remember my very first one which caused a whole progression of events that led to about 6 months of depression. That panic attack was brought on by pre-workout and way too much stress.

I get panic attacks every so often but they are no where close to the first one I had or the other few that I had prior to therapy. Let me describe to you what it felt like. People often say that it is like having a heart attack. This is 100% true. My heart was racing, I was sweating, my thoughts were going all over the place, and I had the worst anxiety of my life. I honestly thought I was dying, but at the time, I was actually learning a valuable less, how to get help and get healthy. Of course I did was not thinking about that at the moment I was having the attack. In fact, I was having thoughts that were creating more anxiety such as “Will this continue throughout my life? Will I ever recover? Why is this happening to me? What did I do to deserve this?” All thoughts that really didn’t help.

I eventually learned that I needed help and that was one of the best things that I ever for my mental health. If you are like me, you do not want to have panic attacks. This is why I want to share a few ways that I reduce the attacks so I don’t have them nearly as bad.

  1. See a therapist

I want to start off with this because taking advice from a stranger online is not the best way to help with the anxiety you are feeling in life. See someone that is a professional and really dive deeper into why this is happening and what can be done to stop it.

2. Give your panic attack a name

Name your panic attack. Tell it that you don’t want it around and that it is not welcomed. This helps for me, though not as much as other methods that I will discuss.

3. Go outside and just breathe.

This is mindfulness and it will help. What I do is put my phone and electronics as far away from me and I go outside and just take a ton of slow, deep breathes. I will immediately feel a reduction in panic.

4. Do Not Try And Control It

By trying to control the panic attack, you can actually make it worse. I did not know this until my therapist as well as many other therapists from books and videos told me this as well. They say that your body will adjust to what is going on and make it seem less bad the next time you have a panic attack. By trying to control it, you can make the next panic attack stronger and you do not want that,

5. If you can, just go on a jog

A quick run or jog usually tires me out. The racing thoughts do go away when you are running so it helps for the moment. It will also tire yourself out so the panic attack may go away quickly. If you have trouble breathing though, do not do this. Some panic attacks will make you hyperventilate so this method of reduction is not advised

6. Go on YouTube and play lofi music. Then think of a place that you feel secure and comfortable.

Picture your “happy place” and stay there for a bit in your mind. Take a moment to really calm down in your happy place. Mine is in a boat, in the Keys. I go there often.

7. Tell yourself “This, too, shall pass”

It is a good mantra to tell yourself. This moment will pass and you will get through it. You will be a stronger person because of it and you will be ready when or if it happens again.

I use these methods when I have panic attacks. Honestly, they aren’t even panic attacks anymore, more like a bit of heightened anxiety that I have learned to cope with. I promise you that you can get through whatever you re going through, but you need a bit of time. Nothing is wrong with you, we all experience this, but sometimes people experience worse panic attacks than others. You can get through this and anything else that is thrown your way. I hope these methods reduce your panic attacks and I hope you get the help you deserve. Have an amazing 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.

How a Massage Gun Helps With My Mental State

Ok, I want to dedicate this blog post to the massage gun that I recently bought from amazon. Now, I am not one to just write a post for one particular product unless it has significantly helped me in some way.

I bought a massage gun about 2 months ago that I keep in my office. This is the one I bought.

So at first I bought it because I am terrible when it comes to stretching. I am constantly sore from workouts and needed a drastic change. I also had a discount, which I wish I had for you guys, because these can be awfully expensive :(. I think the discount was like 80% off too so I had to take full advantage of it. Anyway, I received the massage gun and immediately tried it out. It worked like a charm. I am not here to just tell you that a massage gun works on loosening muscle fibers. No, I want to tell you how it has helped with my mental state.

I want to start off by saying that I don’t know what is happening that is making me feel better, but it is working. So apparently I keep my stress in my shoulders. You can tell by the knots that are there. I was about to do a back workout one day when I decided to try the massage gun out and see if I could release those knots and activate my muscles. It did alot more than that. I worked my shoulders and lower back which caused me to relax more than I have in a very long time. In fact, I was so relaxed that I put off the gym until that night.

I tried the same thing the next day, this time before I did some meditation. Holy Cow! I immediately went into a pretty deep meditation and almost didn’t come out of it (lol). The massage gun is definitely causing an increase in serotonin or something but it has allowed me to relax, especially now when I am pretty stressed out. I will have to read some peer reviewed journal articles on massages and reduction in anxiety. I am sure that there is a reason that this is occuring.

For those that want to try something new for your anxiety, I would suggest investing in one of these massage guns. Even if it doesn’t get rid of your anxiety, at least your muscles will be relaxed and I am sure no one will complain about a nice massage.

If you happen to know why my anxiety goes away, let me know in the comments. I would prefer to know the actual mechanisms that come into play and how that affects the body. Thanks guys!

Relaxation: The First Step to a Reduction of Anxiety

One of the most important things that I learned while getting therapy was to take time to relax. This can be 10 minutes a day or a whole week, like what I am doing now. Take moments tp just be in the moment and not think about everything else that is going on in your life. By doing this, I can guarantee that a great amount of anxiety will just disappear.

Relaxation is essential for our bodies to recover. You can only drink so much coffee before you have to stop what you are doing and rest. It’s such a shame that society makes us believe that we need to be doing something every second of each day. It lies to us, tells us to work, work, work and relax later. I have quite a few friends that are almost addicted to working. I ask them, “Why don’t you take time for yourself and just relax?” Every single one of them replies with the same or similar answer. They always say that they want to work hard now so they can have a relaxing future. Now, I understand where they are coming from and had a similar mindset when I was younger, and also pre-therapy. I figured that I have a ton of energy and i should invest that energy into work so I can get a good job and relax later. One thing that I know for certain is there are no certainties in this life.

Working hard is good but it does not need to be your life, especially when you are young. You do not know if you will have money in the future. Heck, you may be poor, tired, old, and unhappy (I hope you are not). But you need to realize that the future is not certain and right now is what you need to focus on.

Life is a journey. It is long but you need to enjoy it along the way. My anxiety comes from living in the future, always thinking about the “what ifs” and never taking time to relax because “what if I don’t have money in 1 year? What if I can’t find a job? I need to start looking even though I graduate in 10 months.” I spend all of my time worrying about the “what ifs” that I don’t relax and enjoy the ride.

Relaxation is essential because it causes your body to cool down. Take time off of work. Use those vacation days and go somewhere you’ve never been. Do it while you can, while you’re young because we have “potentially” only one chance to do this thing called “life” right and I don’t want to be working all of the time, that’s for sure. Relax wherever you go and make sure to really appreciate what is going on at that moment.

Relaxation also means to get off of your phones and social media. We are addicted to distractions and this might just be the biggest distraction we have in the present moment. My therapist said that her clients were stressed out due to social media. They were constantly being bombarded with bad news as well as feelings of inadequacy. Get rid of it, get off it, and go relax! I am doing just that and you should be too.

I want to eave you guys with my current situation. This vacation is something anyone can do and all you need to do is take time off and go and do it. Here is a picture taken yesterday. I hope you enjoy.

Image

You Are Good Enough

Often, in grad school, you will feel inadequate. You will feel like a failure, like someone that doesn’t deserve the degree you’re going to get. This is normal. We all feel this way and that is the wonderful part of growing as an individual and becoming a researcher. You will learn that there is so much more to life than we know and it will make us feel a bit weird inside.

Feeling like you are not good enough is something that you will have to fight. I just want to let you know that you are not just good enough, but wayyyyy better than “enough”. You will face some very difficult uncertainties in the years that follow which will cause self doubt but know that no matter what anyone says, you are enough!!!

People will tell you “no”, Experiments will tell you “no”. Advisers will tell you “no”. Things in life will not go the way you wanted but that does not mean you are less than perfect. You are perfect and beautiful and smart and you will overcome whatever you face in graduate school. You make so many people proud and that is good enough to keep you going.

I often feel that I am not good enough but then realize that I am in a difficult major, with the brightest people around me, learning stuff that people spend their whole lives studying. This is so cool and of course I may feel lost but that moment is when the adventure starts getting good.

I often just pretend that I am in the Lord of the Rings. They had is quite difficult and often felt like they were not good enough for the job of taking the ring to Mordor, but they did. Grad school is that journey for you. Sure, you will face a ton of monsters along the way. Sure, you may get chewed up and spit out, but you will prevail and the end will be so amazing.

You can do it. You are good enough. And you will PREVAIL.

**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.

Enjoying Family Time

I just want to show my appreciation for my family. My family includes my parents, brother, girlfriend as well as my brother’s girlfriend and daughter. As we get older, my brother and I, we have started to go off on our own. I can see how it affects my mom as well as my dad knowing that their sons are both starting the wonderful journey that is life. But for one week out of the year, we take time away from our busy lives to spend it all together. This vacation has been a great one so far. Having the time to see and be with my family has made me understand that life is not about work, life is about the relationships you have with others, the journeys you take, the risks you make, and the love you show, wherever you end up.

We all come from different backgrounds and situations. Family may mean a lot different than a blood relative to you. It may be close friends, a neighbor, your pet, a significant other, or the guy down the street that waves to you each morning. No matter what “family” is, appreciate it. Spend time with them because you will remember these moments way more than what happened at work. Life is so much more and we are just scratching the surface.

I hope everyone is having a great week with whatever you might be doing. Today, we decided to go to Key West and go to the butterfly museum as well as take a walk through the cemetery. I was able to spend some quality time with my family as really appreciate the day. I wanted to share with you all because I know you guys really understand the importance of having quality relationships with others. It is truly one of the best things in life.

Be Kind, Be Calm

Ahhh, The Florida Keys. So amazing, so majestic, so alcoholic, so….sunny. It is quite sunny and hot today but it is amazing. It’s amazing how different it is down here than 400 mile north, where I am located. Anyway, todays fishing trip may me realize that sometimes things can get really frustrating, but you need to let those feelings go and show others kindness as well as yourself.

Vacations tend to be super stressful for some people, especially if there is travelling or confined quarters. We have a bit of both down here but my family is fairly good dealing with the stresses that come with vacations. The traveling that we do is in our boat. We love to fish and the keys trip is for just that, fishing. We also have a very small boat and that can cause issues. I was getting really frustrated on the boat and it didn’t help that it was 100 degrees out and we weren’t catching fish. Those are the moments where therapy really kicks in. I took a few deep breathes and calmed down. Without lashing out, I calmed down and showed kindness to the other occupants of the boat.

Stress can definitely cause some issues but you need to show kindness, to others and yourself. Realize that you will be frustrated but keeping your cool will make those moments pass.

I hope everyone is having a great day. I will try and post another blog post soon with the pictures of the key deer and maybe a couple of fish.

**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.

Learn to Take Time For Yourself

I am currently undergoing a very busy and stressful time in my life. I have been running around all over the state of Florida, writing and editing, blogging, moving, and getting ready to have my qualifying exams in 3 weeks. I AM TIRED. I don’t want to complain though because I was expecting this. I knew that this would happen and I was (somewhat) ready for it. So many people in this world have way busier schedules than me and they don’t complain about it, so neither will I. I do, however, want to share some advice with you guys and gals in grad school, or working full time, or just living life. The advice is to take a moment to be “in the moment”. Shut off your phone, tune out music and noise, try not to think of what needs to get done, and just BE.

This morning, I did just that. I took time for myself and focused on being in the present moment. Does this sound like something that is familiar? This is the main concept of mindfulness. Be in the present and tune out all distractions. Holy cow!!!!! By doing just that, I was able to find happiness and serenity in that moment. I listened to the birds chirping, the wind rustling through the trees, and noticed the true beauty in this life. I also had this view.

Image preview

For about an hour, my worries disappeared. I felt love, kindness, and most importantly, peace. No wonder people have been telling me to practice mindfulness. You really can notice a difference.

I want you, the reader and of course, my friend, to take a few minutes out of the day to just be in the moment. Turn off all distractions and just notice everything around you. I guarantee that you will feel emotions that you probably hadn’t felt in a long time.

Life is long and short at the same time. You’re 10 years old one moment, then 28 years old the next, about to finish your doctorate. The past 4 years have gone by so quickly because I was not in the present moment, I lived in the future, at least in my head (just kidding, I am a time traveler ;P). I was so caught up in work that I forgot that life was happening around me. This definitely did not help my mental state. For many of you, especially those in graduate school, you will face mental issue and uncertainties. Trust me when I say this, TRY MINDFULNESS. It may not make all of the anxiety go away but it probably will help. I believe in this method and I believe in you! Stay kind my friends. I will try and get a blog post out this weekend with more fun pictures. Until then, stay beautiful.

Graduate School Hacks

I am going to just have fun with this blog and see where it goes. These are a few ” grad school hacks” that I do which has made my PhD much more fun.

grad school hacks

Grad School Hacks

  1. Interreact with as many professors as possible. Get to know them on a personal level. Professors are great resources to have and it’s so nice to be able to talk with them like they are friends. Plus, some professors have really expensive lab equipment that you can use!!
  2. Drink coffee. Do not drink energy drinks because it is extremely hard to do work when you are bouncing off of the walls. Coffee will give you a great boost in the morning and help you focus. Just be careful not to overdo it or you will be jittery all day. Check out my favorite coffee here.
  3. Drink water, and drink it often. This “hack” is to keep you hydrated and healthy. Frankly, this is not a hack at all but a recommendation. Drinking water is essential to your health and a healthy student is more productive than a sickly one.
  4. Meal plan and cook at home. We do not make that much money and going out to eat is expensive. You will have time to cook food. I promise that you won’t be busy 20 hours a day. If you are, then you need to learn to say no or get out of school completely lol. That’s ridiculous. Meal planning will help you stay within a budget as well as keep you health, that’s assuming you don’t bring pizza everyday for lunch.
  5. Focus on learning the material rather than a grade. Grades do not matter in grad school as long as you receive a B and that is fairly easy to do. Focus more of understanding the material rather than getting an A on the exam. There have been several times where I have received an A but could not recall the information from the class. That information was essential to my research, also :(. That class was statistics, by the way.
  6. Get a planner and actually use it. Stay on schedule! You will forget to do stuff. It happens…we are only human. I have a to do list that I use each day. There have been so many times where I forgot what I had to do that day because I did not write it down. Seriously, this hack is important. This is my favorite planner.
  7. Workout. Studies have shown that exercise increases brain function and you just feel great. Type in to Google Scholars “Effects of exercise on the brain”. Just do it.
  8. Write. Each. Day. This is not a hack, but for some reason, people tend to want to think it is. I created this blog to help hone my writing skills as well as share information that I have learned over the years in school. I write each and every day. It honestly sucks at first. I won’t lie. After about a month of writing, you will see that 500 words is a piece of cake (Publix Ice Cream cake to be exact. YUM). Aim to write 500 words each day and see how easy it becomes. Also, if you write a bit of your thesis each day, you’ll have it mostly finished way before you defend. It’s a win-win.
  9. Take advantage of discounts and free things that are given to students. This includes food, clothes, trips to places, fitness classes, anything really. Take advantage of it now while you are a student.
  10. Lastly, find happiness in what you do. You will have days where nothing goes right. Experiments fail, your adviser yelled at you (if this happens then you may want to get a new one), maybe you left your lunch at home and have to live off of Panda Express from the student union. Bad days will happen but DO NOT let one bad incident turn a good day into a bad one. You will make mistakes. You will “fail”…I hate that word and you can read why, here, but you know what? You will thrive! You just need to find something good each day. It can be a small thing like getting pizza or seeing a friend. If you can find a bit of happiness each day, it will make grad school so much fun.

Final Thoughts

I hope you made it to the end without falling asleep. I actually fell asleep around #6 so… Anyway, I hope this list helps you on your journey through grad school. These are things that have really helped me all throughout the 5 long years I have been here. If you have questions, do not hesitate to reach out to me. I know many people are thinking about going back to school but may be a bit uncertain of what to expect. I am here to help any way I can. Let me know if you have any more “grad school hacks” that I did not touch upon. Also, I hope you have a wonderful day doing whatever you do!

Congratulations, You Made a Mistake

Do you like making mistakes? I sure don’t, but we all do. We all make mistakes in our lives and that makes us human, that makes us amazing! I wrote about the two bad bricks in the wall. The monk cared so much about the mistakes he made that he forgot all of the good that he did. I made a mistake tonight that honestly had about 10 people calling me names and telling me how terrible I was. I was an umpire at a kickball game. I made a terrible call against the team that won and was called multiple names, cussed at, and I honestly thought one kid was going to hit me. That last one might have been a stretch, but maybe lol. You don’t understand that when you call someone names, especially those that you don’t even know, that hurts them… sometimes a little, sometimes a lot, but it hurts.

What would you have done in my situation? Would you yell back at them and tell them and told that they are terrible? Would you tear up and just take it? Or would you laugh about it, because you made a mistake and that means you are human? I chose to laugh about it.

When you make mistakes, they can always be looked at as learning experiences. My experience tonight was child’s play compared to literally any other mistake, but it hurt to be called names. I learned and laughed and tried to have a decent time after that experience, though I paid closer attention :p.

The way you handle these situations is everything. If you let it get to you emotionally then it will drag you down and keep you in a low area. My advice is to be kind to yourself, admit it was a mistake, laugh about it, and learn. Also, in probably a few days, you will forget it even happened. Please do not let a small, insignificant occurrence cause your suffering. When you have anxiety, any little thing can turn into a completely blown out of proportion event. But by changing the way you perceive it and have a little fun, you can make any mistake into a funny story or learning experience.

I admitted that I made a mistake to the team that won. I apologized and they weren’t even mad afterwards, in fact, they were so happy about going to the championship game that they didn’t even care about the call. It was insignificant and I have moved on.

Also, be kind to people, because they will make mistakes. You never know what that individual battles with each day. They may have lost a loved one, haven’t slept in days, battling a mental illness, or literally anything else. Everyone is dealing with someone and by being mean to that person because of a mistake just makes you a pretty bad individual. No one is perfect, and actually perfection is straight garbage. I want to see people make mistakes because that gives them character. Flaws are not flaws at all, they are FEATURES!. Same with mistakes.

Be kind, because this is a wild journey called life, and no one really knows what they’re doing. Have a good night everyone. I love you all.

What I Do When I am STRESSED

I wouldn’t write this blog unless I was in a stressful situation. I have quite a few things going on in my life so I thought I would share what I do to reduce the stress and become way more productive. Stress can cause all forms of problems, so reducing it is key to a happier and healthier life. Here’s a list of things I do

  1. Exercise.
  2. Meditate
  3. Put on classical music or Lofi music
  4. Drink less caffeine.
  5. Read an article with something happy in it. I know this one is weird but changing my mood definitely helps
  6. Follow my breathe. This is more mindfulness than anything
  7. Remind myself that “This too will pass”
  8. Watch the scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams and Matt Damon are at the park.
  9. Watch Good Will Hunting if I have the time lol
  10. Remind myself to look for the learning experience or the good that comes from the stressful situation. This is usually if I can’t control the stress.
  11. Call up someone to just talk to. Sometimes by Talking to someone, your stress will significantly be reduced.
  12. Go on frequent, short, walks
  13. Pushups
  14. Get plenty of sleep
  15. Cook Something or bake something
  16. Lastly, I stop thinking about the work that needs to be done, and I just do what can be done at the moment. Thinking about the work is wayyyyyyyy harder than actually doing it.

This was a pretty long list of things but I know you can find something in there that will help you. Let me know what you do to reduce stress. I would love to add more to this list.

**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.

Vacations When Doing A Doctorate

It’s the best time of the year, VACATION!!!! Actually it’s one of the two best times of the years since I take two vacations each year. This year, my family and I will be going to the beautiful Florida Keys. We mostly fish, snorkel, drink heavily, and hang around, spending quality time with each other. We leave Saturday, which is making this week extra long.

Vacations are so important for you and you may not even know it. First off, it takes you away from work that is potentially killing you O.o. Also, it gives you time to relax and get back to a state of equilibrium. Vacations allow you to visit places, get away from stress, enjoy the simple or extravagant things in life, and most importantly, it brings joy into your life.

Grad school is tough. People assume that it’s just classes and studying all of the time, but it’s actually much more than that. It’s living on a very small stipend, doing experiments at extremely odd hours, running around the lab, trying to find the pipette that an undergrad was using and didn’t put away, as well as try and function as a human being. Social lives usually suffer, overall health suffers (especially mental health), and things become overwhelming. It’s tough to see people you graduated undergrad with go off and start their careers, making a ton of money, and you are left here, doing mentally taxing things, not believing that you will be successful too. It’s hard and that’s why vacations are so important.

Getting away from the hustle and bustle of lab work and school allows your brain to take a break. You will come back with more motivation, clarity, as well as possibly a tan. From my experience and about 99.99% of people I know, taking time off has given them the motivation and strive to accomplish tasks that take them weeks usually, in maybe a few days. You just feel overall better about life.

Also, your adviser will probably push for you to take a break to prevent “burn out”. Every grad student will get burnt out at one point. This is a great opportunity to just leave for a week and come back refreshed. In a doctoral program, burn out is a real thing that can lead to mental illness. No wonder 50% of PhD students do not finish, it’s insane.

Please, Please, Please just go on vacation or even just take time off for yourself. Go to a movie each day for a week, go see a friend that lives in a different town/state/country, or just chill in bed, playing video games for a week. There is more to life than work. Vacations show you just that.

Let me know where you are going for your vacation and what you are doing? That may help me choose my next trip :p. Thanks for reading my blog. I love all of you.

How I Deal With Financial Stress in Grad School

So you want to go to grad school or you are already there. That’s amazing and I hope that you have an amazing journey! If you are in grad school currently, you know what being poor and overworked is like. If you are preparing for grad school, be prepared.

Money is quite tight for me currently, mostly because I was forced to move into a new place that is way more expensive than what I currently am in. Since everyone is coming back in person to school, they are filling up all of the cheaper places that allow pets, so I was stuck with the more expensive option.

I have always been fairly good with money. I have enough saved up to be able to afford my new place with some modifications of course. I’ll share a list of things I am doing to save money as well as not have the financial stress and anxiety that comes with grad school finances.

  1. I am shopping at Walmart now. I used to shop at Publix but they are quite expensive. You can get the same food at a cheaper price from Walmart, so I shop there now.
  2. I do not go to Starbucks or buy coffee from anywhere. I make my own coffee, see my coffee blog. People spend as much on a cup of coffee as I do on a whole bag of coffee grounds. They do have good coffee though.
  3. I gave up spending money on vending machine food. This is self explanatory.
  4. I walk to my office, or take a bus. You will most likely be paying for a form of transportation to and from school. Take full advantage of that because gas is getting expensive.
  5. I DON’T BUY THINGS ON AMAZON THAT I DON’T NEED. This has taken so much strength to do but I think I am finally free from the Amazon addiction. I was buying everything on there and would have a package almost every other day. This led to more anxiety surprisingly. I quit buying things and I have saved a ton of money and my anxiety is not as bad.
  6. Cook your own food. I think cooking is one of the coolest things you can learn. Creating dishes that are healthy, delicious, and good looking is quite a talent. In fact, I was on a competition team that won third place in 2011. I love to cook and I have saved so much money by cooking at home. You may spend like $8 at chipotle when you can literally make the same meal for like $3 at home.
  7. I don’t drink alcohol as much. I still go to bars with friends but I order soda or iced tea. This reduces my spending significantly and doesn’t make me want to go out and get pizza afterwards and spend even more money lol. Plus, alcohol is one of my anxiety triggers, so staying clear of it is beneficial for me.
  8. I build my own stuff. This one is a hit or miss because prices for wood and other materials are going to outer space. I also found out that something I made was about half the price online than I spend on supplies. But, I am sure there’s stuff around the house you can use to build something you need. I use old rugs to make scratching posts for my cat. I also wood carve and make figurines that are cool so I don’t jump online to buy things to make my room look fancier.

These are the things I do on a regular basis to reduce my spending because grad school is expensive. Life is expensive. I hope you consider trying some of this stuff out as well as adding some trick of your own in the comment section. I love learning clever ways of saving money. Thank you for reading my 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 the Heck Do You Make Friends in Grad School, or, Well, in General?

“How the heck does everyone around me have a million friends?” I see it all of the time in school. Literally pods of students all together, seemingly having a great time with their friends. In undergrad, I wanted that so much. In grad school, I just want to be able to talk with a few people, not a whole group. But how are these people making so many friends? That I cannot answer, but I can give tips on how to make really great friends, something I will cherish way more than having a bunch of people that you aren’t that close with.

It has taken me about three years to establish a really good friends group. It mostly consists of max five people, but they are all people that I genuinely like and know on a deeper level. Grad school can be extremely tough to make friends. If you are a PhD candidate, like me, it can me almost impossible since you will spend a great amount of time alone. But with a little persistence and some courage, I guarantee that you will find friends.

  1. Join a club or sports league

Clubs are super easy to join and frankly you don’t have to put that much effort into it. If you join a club that really falls in line with your interest, you will find friends. People just like you, with similar interests will be there and you’ll get to know each one of them pretty well. sports leagues/intermural leagues are also a great way to make friends. I am currently on a kickball team with people that are my age, drinking, and having fun. We go to get drinks after games each week and they have even invited me to parties.

2. Get a part-time job

This is a bit tricky in grad school because your adviser may say it breaches contract or you may not graduate on time. Luckily for me, my adviser doesn’t care unless it’s between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. As I have stated, I am a personal trainer so my hours of work are later. Jobs are great because you will spend a ton of time with people, mostly students in a college town, but also some older people too. Some of my closest friends that I have are from a job I had in undergrad.

3. Meetup.com

I don’t have a lot of experience using this but I know people that swear by it. This one takes a bit of courage because you may be meeting a ton of people for the first time and that can cause a great amount of anxiety. Heck, my anxiety is the reason I don’t use this. Meetup does a great job of bringing people with similar interests together, and honestly, that’s what you want in friends.

4. Blog

Blogging can introduce you to so many people in the world. I have just started but I can definitely see how I can make a ton of friends with what I am doing. The interactions that I have with people are just truly amazing and I think this is a fantastic way to make friends.

5. Having a roommate

This one may require some luck if you have roommate matching. If not, and you can pick your roommate, then this is way easier to make a friend. I have friends all over the world that used to live with me that I call friends. By being forced to live with someone, you see how they actually are, all the time. You develop a deeper relationship with the person and that can be a good or bad thing lol. I have had some amazing roommates that are close friends. But be warned…friends might not always make good roommates!!!

Anyway, this was a short list of ways that I have been successful at making friends. It’s hard, but with a bit of work and luck, you can have amazing relationships with people. Let me know how you make friends or if you want too be my friend!

5 Stadium Exercises That You Need to Do

I haven’t written about fitness in a few days, so I wanted to write something to help motivate you to do stadium workouts. I currently do a stadium workout twice a week, personal training two people at the same time. We went yesterday and definitely put in a ton of effort. So, I wanted to share the exercises that I think would benefit you and make you much better at running stadiums/working out there.

  1. Stadium Mountains

This is what I call running/jogging/walking/crawling up all of the stairs to the top of the stadiums. Our stadium has like 180 steps or something crazy like that, so you definitely feel it going up. Be careful coming down, though. Your legs will be wobbly.

2. Stadium Mountains with added weights.

So I bought a sandbag during the pandemic when we were all working for home. This was perfect to use yesterday to go up and down the stadiums with added weight. I bought this one https://amzn.to/3hxEOk6. You can also get a weighted vest or just carry a backpack with books in it. Just make sure that there is additional weight and I guarantee it will be a hard, yet satisfying exercise.

3. Leg raises on the stadium bleachers

leg raises are amazing to target lower abs, which can be a pain to work out. The bleachers are perfect to do leg raises because you can comfortably fit on them laying down and they add some instability to work out those stabilizer muscles. I see people doing these all of the time and it shows. I would suggest bringing a yoga mat since the bleachers could be a little uncomfortable at times.

4. Sprints

Sprints are amazing because you can do them anywhere, on a football field, up ramps, through traffic, through a busy marketplace after you just stole a diamond necklace, really anywhere. I love sprinting up ramps particularly. You really work up a sweat and burn a ton of calories. Also, your legs will become so muscular and defined which is always a plus. I try and incorporate sprint each session when I go. I have seen a significant improvement in my stamina as well as strength. Give it a try.

5. Lunges up the steps

This is a killer. My legs are always so tired after lunges and man do they hurt the next day, but they are so worth the pain. Lunges are such an alpha exercise, working your quads, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. These are really good to do as a burnout at the end of your workout mostly because it will take all of your energy to do them lol.

I hope you try stadiums at least once in your life. The gym can get pretty crowded and most of the workout I shared will target the same muscles that weight lifting targets. You don’t even need to be an expert to just run around a stadium and do these exercise. Let me know if you do stadiums and what exercises you incorporate into your workout. I may just incorporate those into mine :). Peace all.

How I Deal With FAILURE!!!

I want to start off this blog telling you that I do not believe that there is such thing as failure when you have tried to do something. True failure comes from not even trying in the first place due to fear of not getting the result you want. People that tell you that they failed an exam, failed a marriage, failed really anything are not actually failing. Ok sorry to be redundant with all of the “failures” lol.

So why did I name this blog “How I Deal With Failure”? It’s because most people would rather see that than something like “How I deal With Finding Out a Different Way of Doing Something Because the Results Did Not Turn Out the Way I Planned”. It’s a mouth full isn’t it?

So let me tell you how I go about dealing with a situation that I was not expecting, or one that I did not like. I simply learn something from it. I have gone through a ton of therapy and have listened to a ridiculous amount of Buddhist talks to change my way of looking at “failures”. They are all learning experiences which means that they aren’t failures at all. Sure, you may have failed an exam, but you learned that the method of studying that you did wasn’t right. Sure, your marriage didn’t go as planned, but you learned that you were not in the right relationship. Sure, I failed an experiment and managed to spill leaded water all over the place, probably causing me to ingest the same concentrations of lead that were found in Flint, Michigan’s water, but I learned that I need to be more careful when it comes to things like that.

The only true failure is when you just don’t try. I tell people all of the time to just try and do something even though they “know for a fact that it will go bad”. The future is completely uncertain and you never know what will happen. I see how my thoughts stop me from even trying something, but I will force myself to do it, and then it turns out it wasn’t nearly as bad as I thought it would be.

By changing your mindset, and I believe this is a major part of cognitive behavioral therapy, you will see that failures do not exist. You you happen to screw up pretty badly, learn at least one thing from it. If you embarrass yourself and call that a failure, laugh about it and make it into a funny memory. Life is way too short to not take risks and worry about failure. I am learning a great deal about not being afraid to fail in grad school. I have been told “no” so many times and I have messed up more times than not, and you know what? I learn something each time and I continue on. I grow from these experiences and you will too. It’s a long process, but my God, it is life changing.

Why Everyone Needs Therapy

As you may have guessed, I suffer from a few different mental issues that are only worsened by my graduate studies. I have learned to cope with these feeling and have completely accepted that they are a part of who I am. I have come to peace with my anxiety and depression and have learned to live and THRIVE, mostly because I went to see a therapist. Let me stat off by saying that, yes.!!!, even you can benefit from therapy. You do not need to have anxious thoughts, or depression, or any mental illness whatsoever to benefit from seeing a therapist. Therapy is for everyone to help find methods to handle the struggles in life. There may be some crazy issues that you may face in the future, and therapy prepares you for those battles.

Luckily, my insurance covers the cost of using the app Talkspace or Online-Therapy. I was so nervous to see a therapist because I truly thought something was desperately wrong with me and therapy couldn’t help out. Boy was I wrong. My therapist was a professional in the field of anxiety as well as, I believe, family therapy. She had been a therapist for like 30 years, so she has dealt with everything. It did take me a few weeks to feel confident enough to truly open up to her.

About 3 months ago, she told me that she only needed to see me once a month because I was a totally different person than when I started. Being told that made me feel 1000 times happier than being accepted into a doctorate program. I have been able to cope with my emotions and feelings ever since. It truly is an amazing feeling.

Everyone should at least see a therapist once in their life. It is a scary thing to go see someone and truly open up to them but I can assure you that it is worth it. Talkspace was a good start and they were relatively cheap. Therapy is a great way of helping you get through every day struggles that you may have, or it might just be the boost and support to allow you to start that new chapter in your life. It allows you to address your fears and emotions and find ways to live with those things as well as use them as tools to progress in life.

Covid has led to a ton of people seeking therapy and that is amazing. People are understanding that something is wrong and want to correct that before it controls their lives. Isolation and loneliness were two big topics brought up by my therapist during the early stages of the pandemic. This really affected people and still does. You should never feel alone. You can be alone but should not feel lonely.

I hope the people that are on the fence about therapy go and see one. It truly was one of the best decisions of my life. In fact, this blog that I have created would not have been started without the help of my therapist. I hope you have an amazing day and I hope this blog was inciteful. Let me know if you go to therapy or someone you know does and how they feel about it.

A Story to Help: Perfectionism

I wanted to share with everyone a story by the world famous, Ajahn Brahm. It has helped significantly because it changed my perception of many of the thoughts I have on a daily basis. I, like many grad students, suffer from perfectionism. This has caused me to not finish projects on time, get rejected from things, and has caused more anxiety in my life than pretty much anything else. I do still strive for the best quality but sometimes I just say it’s good and move on.

So monks tend to build their own monasteries because it is super expensive to get a contractor, and monks don’t have money. Anyway, a Buddhist monk was laying brick to build a wall. He had to learn how to lay brick since it’s really not as easy as the YouTube videos make it seem. After a very long time, the monk was finished. He stepped back to admire his work when he noticed two bricks that were a little out of place. He was furious, enough to go to the abbot and ask for him to knock down the wall so he could rebuild it. That was not going to happen, he had to live with the bricks. Every day the monk walked by that wall, and every day he suffered from having to look at those bricks. The monk didn’t even want people to look at it since he was so ashamed. Until one day, a man was visiting the monastery and was looking at the wall. The monk approached the man who was just entranced by the wall. The man told the monk how beautiful the wall was and how much he admired it. The monk was confused and told the man it wasn’t perfect and there were two very bad bricks. The man looked back at the monk as said “Yes, there are two bad bricks, but I see the 998 good bricks too”.

Sometimes we get so caught up in seeing the “imperfections” in life that we forget that there is so much perfection around as well. This story really made me think about how I get so much anxiety from things I don’t think are perfect that I forget that I do so many good things alongside those not-so-perfect tasks or items. Making mistakes is life and you are human. Plus, those imperfections are not imperfections at all. They are “features” and those features are what make us individuals and beautiful. The next time you doubt yourself or put yourself down for not being “good enough”, look for the 998 good features that you have. I guarantee that you will have a less anxious time and definitely more happiness in your life.

Must Haves For Grad School

It is Summer B semester currently and the freshman are back in full force. This will be the first time that colleges will have people back in full, at least here in Florida at least, and that might be scary for a few people. I honestly don’t want people to come back because the gym gets overcrowded. For those coming back to campus, whether it’s for grad school or undergrad, I wanted to put a list with links to stuff that I find very helpful. This will be a short list because I don’t want to be one of those bloggers that post something like “33 must have items to survive grad school” or something like that. I’ll keep the list fairly short but these are all things that I have found to be the most helpful.

  1. A portable monitor to connect to your laptop

So I bought one of these additional monitors that connects to my laptop so I can work literally from anywhere and have two screens. This was a game changer. I use it all of the time when I am out of the office. It’s super helpful for presentations, writing, having multiple tabs open at once on different screens, etc. There are cheaper ones but this is the one I got.

2. Good pens.

Ok these pens may be cheap on Amazon but they are by far the best pens that I have ever received, and they are cats. They write so well and they give you a ton so you can share with your friends…if that’s what you want to do lol.

3. A “to-do” list/Planner

This is all you need right here. Something super easy and simple. You can go out and buy a fancy one but I like simplistic planners. I personally bought this one ad use it every day since I forget to do stuff constantly.

4. A good water bottle

This is a must have, especially on campus when you are running from class to class. I was buying water bottles from the vending machines and wasting so much money and plastic. I bought a water bottle, the space one to be exact, and have been quite happy with it. It is a bit difficult to clean so you may want to shop around for an easier one to clean.

5. Last, a Watch or Fitbit

Ok I apologize for this one. These are quite expensive so they really don’t follow my grad school on a budget lifestyle so you may need to wait until there is some money to use to get one. I received the Active 2 for Christmas and it is probably the most important thing I have on me, other than my phone. Since I am a personal trainer, this has been extremely helpful. If you are trying to lose weight, I would say the Fitbit is the way to go.

I hope this list was interesting for you. These are just essential items that I have that have helped me survive this long in grad school. What things should be added to this list that has helped you? I would love to know.

How Adopting a Pet Has Affected My Mental Health

I woke up this morning at 4 am. to the sound of my cat, Sirius, meowing because he was scared and probably pretty hungry. We are currently experiencing a tropical storm and he does not like the noise of the wind. I gave him some food then tried getting back to sleep. I have a pretty hard time getting back to sleep when I wake up because I get anxiety in the morning. So I meditate which usually puts me right to sleep (lol). This routine has been going on for about a year and a half since I adopted him. He wakes me up at ungodly hours and I comply. I love every minute of it. I wish he would sleep through the night, which he does when it’s cold outside, but I can’t win every time.

I remember the day I adopted Sirius. My roommate at the time liked to foster cats and we had gone through quite a few. We were currently fostering Sirius and his brother Regulus. I loved both cats and honestly wanted to adopt both but knew that having two cats was quite a handful. Regulus was adopted first and then we had Sirius with us for a few more weeks until I went to pick him up from an adoption clinic and saw how unhappy he was in a cage. I got him right away and he’s been my best friend ever since.

Having a cat at first caused me so much anxiety. In fact, I had a serious panic attack that very night after getting him. I am a “what if” thinker. I thought of all the “what if’s” that could be thought and it really affected my mental state. Turns out, getting that cat was the best thing I had done for my mental health. Sirius gives me a reason to wake up in the morning. I have to take care of him which helps me take care of myself. Having the responsibility of a pet really gives you a sense of satisfaction as well. Now I am not saying to go and get a pet if you are suffering from depression or anxiety. I am saying that it has helped me significantly. Honestly, even getting a house plant to take care of will help as well. Just know that animals are amazing creatures. Sirius even picks up on when I am sad or not feeling well and he will come over and just lay with me. One weird thing that I noticed, and paid for, was him getting really stressed out when I was super stressed out from an altercation with a roommate. This led to him suffering from feline idiopathic cystitis. That was awful and luckily that is over with.

Having a cat has helped tremendously with my anxiety and has even helped to reduce it. I truly believe I am a better person because of him. It also helps that he’s an awesome cat and everyone loves him too.

**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: Hurricanes and Deadlines

Ah, Florida summers! They are filled with pool parties, late summer outings, fun with friends, and lots and lots of time to relax…unless you are in grad school. I am not saying we don’t have fun. Heck, I have a ton of fun until I am given a task that involves me shifting into overdrive to get it finished. This is the case right now. On top of the crazy deadline that I am creating for myself, we have a category 1 hurricane that is about to hit us in the next 12 hours!!! Tonight is going to be fun.

In a previous post, I talked about what to do when everything seems to just go down the drain. This is one of those cases for me and I know everyone has experienced some form of this. I am in a pickle because I need to finish a proposal prior to vacation, pack up all of my stuff because I am moving to a new apartment, and do my qualifying exam all really, really soon. Oh yeah and there’s a hurricane lol This is causing a ton of anxiety but, like the man in my story that I shared, I am looking for the “honey”.

I am not looking for any form of pity though. I want you guys to know that everyone experiences really tough situations and it is ok to vent every once in a while. We all fight battles and take stressful situations differently. This is why it is so important to be kind to one another. I have really been practicing showing kindness towards those that I come in contact with. I listen to what they have to say, because sometimes that is what they need to overcome their struggles. My struggles are very much different than yours, but it does not mean that my life is harder than yours. You may be dealing with some really tough, mental problems, or physical ones that are weighing you down. I want you to know that there are people that will help you and show you kindness. I am trying to become one of those people.

Hopefully the hurricane isn’t too crazy so I can do work on my proposal. I will be stuck inside most of the day so I can hang with my cat, Sirius. I tend to think of him as the “honey” that I am looking out for in my tough situations. For those that are experiencing this storm too, stay safe! For those reading this blog in a different state/country, stay kind! I love you all and know that you are amazing. Good Night!

Audible Books You Must Listen To

Link to start Audible Premium

I am not the biggest fan of reading. In fact, I can probably count on one hand the amount of books I have read in the past 10 years. I know, I know, it is quite sad but I lack the ability to sit still for more than five minutes, so reading is difficult. I do, however, listen to Audible books.

As a grad student, my schedule is often quite all-over-the-place. I try and keep a consistent schedule but that never works out since my life often revolves around timed experiments, meeting, running to and from labs, as well as trying to find time for food. I do have a good chunk of free time most days where I am waiting on something so I tend to either try and read journal articles, or listen to books. I frequently walk pretty long distances, so to pass the time, I listen to books as well. Sometimes I go on extra long walks just to finish a chapter or find out what happens next.

Here’s a list of my favorite books that I have listened to. They aren’t in any specific order but I will tell you my favorite afterwards.

  1. All of the Harry Potter novels https://amzn.to/3hP8yri
  2. The Shining https://amzn.to/3htEpiv
  3. Red Rising https://amzn.to/3hw4X2L
  4. The Martian https://amzn.to/3k5QV9q
  5. Ready Player One https://amzn.to/3APsaEB
  6. Ready Player Two https://amzn.to/3xBtOb0
  7. 11-22-63 https://amzn.to/3e5k9Bv

So my all time favorite book to have listened to is a tie between Ready Player One and Ready Player Two. Will Wheaton narrates both book and HOLY COW it is amazing. The story is just so fun and it really makes you wonder if something similar to what is going on will happen in the future. I highly recommend listening to these rather than reading them. It is a whole different experience.

The Harry Potter books are also amazing to listen to. They are narrated by Jim Dale, who does a fantastic job at it. For days where you are driving long distances, I suggest Harry Potter to keep you company lol.

Let me know in the comments what books you have listened to and what your favorites are. I am always looking for more to get. Peace!!

Grad School on a Budget: Coffee

You must be here because you have an addiction to coffee. I totally get it. I, too, have an addiction and man is it bad. It’s not quite to the point of an intervention, but I would say it’s close. See coffee is what makes us “normal”. The caffeine is what allows me to write these posts each morning and still be in a good mood to tell everyone “Good morning” as they pass by my office. Unfortunately, coffee can be expensive if you buy it. We have maybe 10 Starbucks on campus and a handful of other coffee shops around campus. You can find it everywhere, but at $4 for an iced coffee, I need to look elsewhere.

Today’s blog will be a bit short but I just wanted to share a few of my favorite coffee with you guys. I do not drink hot coffee. Frankly, I hate warm or hot beverages (I know, I’m weird). I also just drink black coffee so I can reduce calories as well as I like bitter drinks. I even drink iced tea without sugar. Anyway, here are a few of my favorite coffees that I think you need to have in grad school, especially if you are on a budget.

1) Sboly Single Serve Coffee Maker Brewer for K-Cup Pod & Ground Coffee Thermal Drip Instant Coffee Machine with Self Cleaning Function, Brew Strength Control https://amzn.to/3xcazEH

So I have to start with the coffee maker I have. This coffee make brews single cups, up to 14 oz and takes both k-cups as well as ground coffee. I highly recommend getting one, but if not, a French press like https://amzn.to/2UbXAEi is absolutely perfect. This initial cost is a bit much but you get your money’s worth in no time, I promise. Ok let’s get to coffee.

2) French Vanilla Coffee from Dunkin’ https://amzn.to/2TqHIh1

French vanilla coffee is the superior coffee. OMG!! It’s amazing iced, hot (my girlfriend likes hot coffee so she told me it’s good), with creamer, with sugar, literally any way you want. I highly recommend this one.

3) SF Bay Coffee OneCUP French Roast/Dark Roast 80 Ct Compostable Coffee Pods, K Cup Compatible Including Keurig 2.0 https://amzn.to/3x5nNmx

My mother buys this brand and I think it is just so darn good. They are K-cups, but compostable one’s so they are better than the plastic ones. The flavor is really good as well and they are fairly cheap. Definitely a good choice if you have a Keurig or Sboly coffee maker.

4) DEATH WISH COFFEE Ground Coffee Dark Roast [16 oz.] The World’s Strongest Coffee – Organic, Fair Trade, Strong Coffee Grounds from Arabica, Robusta (1-Pack) https://amzn.to/3Ab9TBc

So sometimes you have to really get up and going. This is the coffee for you. I promise that you will not need more than half a cup of this stuff to get yourself ready for the day (and even to the gym). This stuff is potent and the flavor is really good. It’s is a bit expensive for the package but well worth it.

5) Coffee Pods Variety Pack Sampler, Assorted Single Serve Coffee for Keurig K Cups Coffee Makers, 40 Unique Cups https://amzn.to/3dAok8p

I put this one as last because I wanted to end with a fun one. This is a variety pack of coffees that includes pretty much every flavor of coffee that you can imagine. It’s about 60 cents per pod, so a bit expensive, but you can try different flavors then buy the flavor you like the most directly. This variety pack can only be used with a Keurig type coffee maker so you need one of those. I believe some of the flavors included also come in ground form so you can get them for your coffee maker or French press too. I bought this for my mom for mother’s day and she loved it. She was able to determine her favorite flavors and I believe bought a few more of those flavors. It was definitely a good gift (lol).

I hope this has helped a little. Hopefully you had some coffee prior to reading this so it didn’t put you to sleep. I am heading off to get some coffee right now and start my day in the lab. Thank you for reading and I will catch you in the next blog. Peace!