I want to touch on some simple ways to reduce stress in grad school. These are just immediate reducers and may not help for long term reduction. Those methods will need to be practiced separately. Stress affects all of us. Work, life, financial situations, friendships, you name it, it can cause stress. If you are feeling the stress of one or all of these things, try some of the methods that I will share below. Hopefully they help.
Before we get started, I want you to know that grad school will be stressful and these methods will significantly help you. Of course, you may need to go with other methods such as professional help. in order to fully reduce your stress levels. I am currently at the end of my PhD and am seeing the full effects of stress in grad school. Trust me when I say, using methods to reduce stress can be a lifesaver.
Literally just go outside and jog a bit, walk some, or hit up the gym and lift a few weights. You will feel a reduction in stress immediately which will allow you to think clearly and be more productive. Exercise is a great way to eliminate all of that pent up aggression and stress that you have. A 30 minute walk or run, or an hour at the gym will most definitely put you in a better and more relaxed mood. Stress can also give you a ton of motivation to do a really intense workout.
What’s good about stress when it comes to exercise is it gives motivation to workout then is reduced because you workout. You build up really great habits of stress reduction this way as well.
2. Use the massager that you bought
If you don’t know what I am talking about, check out my blog about the massager that helped my mental state (link here). Getting a massage has been shown to reduce built up stress, especially in your shoulders. It will allow you to relax, even at moments of high stress. I was pleasantly surprised how well a massager helped me reduce my stress. It helped me relaxed significantly and all of the stress that I held in my body just disappeared. It is a great way to reduce stress quickly.
3. Drink tea instead of coffee
I don’t know about you but if I am stressed and need to get work done, I drink a big cup of coffee. Sure, it gets the brain juices flowing but I usually have heightened anxiety from the caffeine. Herbal tea can give you the boost you need but also reduce the anxiety that come from caffeine. It can also help you relax as well. There are literally hundred of books and articles about the benefits of tea. Science backs it so I back it.
4. Reduce stress in Grad school with 10 minutes of meditation
One of the best ways to reduce stress in grad school is by meditation. Meditation is going to help significantly. I have written many blog posts that can be found in my Mindfulness section (link here). Meditation will calm you and bring peace to the moment. 10 minutes of meditation is all you need to gain from this practice. I have found that when I am stressed, taking 10 minutes to just breathe has significantly helped to relieve my stress and put me in a productive mood. You will experience many stressors in your time in grad school. This is one way to tackle them and graduate on top.
5. Write down your stressors
This is a great method to see exactly what is causing stress. This is a great way to find the root cause of your stress in grad school and tackle it. Also, it allows you to see if those are justifiable stressors. Often times, you will be stressed out for things that really are so small. By writing down what your stress is, you may realize that it’s not stressful at all. It is a great method to put things into perspective and I highly suggest trying it out.
6. Play mellow music
I find this helps more than most things. In super stressful time, such as deadlines, maintain focus and reducing panic is a must. Study music is my “jam” lol at that moment because it keeps my focus and reduces stress. It’s hard to be worked up when Mozart is playing in the background. I wrote a blog about my favorite study music. This YouTube channels and playlists definitely help reduce stress. (link here).
I like to play music that is familiar and soothing. For me, music from childhood video games always helps. It brings me back to a simpler time and relaxes me. If you haven’t tried that out, I would highly suggest it.
Breathing exercises are phenomenal when it comes to stress. When stressed, we tend to take very short breathes, not allowing ample oxygen to enter out bodies, balancing oxygen and carbon dioxide in the bloodstream. By taking deep breathes, we send a message to the brain to calm down. The brain will send that message to the body as well. There are a ton of breathing exercising that you can do. The University of Michigan has an awesome article on these techniques and how to do them. Here’s a link to that page.
8. Go on a mini vacation
I know that it can be quite difficult to go on vacation during a stressful period of your grad school. This is something to do if you have the time to be able to do it. If you are about to defend your thesis, I wouldn’t suggest going on vacation. But if you are just stressed from work, during the year, maybe taking a few days off is best. I recently came back from vacations, and it has helped me so much. I feel well rested, motivated, and ready to finish my doctorate. Sometimes, the best thing you can do is take time away from the stress of grad school and get away for a bit. It might just be the best thing you do to reduce stress in grad school.
I really hope that stress is not a part of your life. We live in a society where giving more and more of ourselves is a must in order to get anywhere. This causes so much stress. No wonder so many people are unhappy with how things are. If you are feeling stresses, try some of these methods out and let me know if they worked for you. Take care of yourself out there, and I’ll see you in the next blog.