How to Deal With Grad School Stress?

Have you ever asked yourself why things are the way that they are? Like, why do we have to drive on the right side of the road? Or, why is it that you can’t just eat only one brownie when a plate is left in front of you? These are questions that keep me up at night. One of the things that I question and want to really get down to the core about is why is grad school so stressful? Does it have to be stressful? Why is there even stress in grad school? I thought we were done with that in undergrad. Today, I want to touch on this subject and possibly answer why grad school is stressful and what we can do about it.

Main Reasons for Grad School Stress

There are going to be a ton of reasons in grad school to feel stressed. Some are normal and some might not be. Do not worry though. You will get out of grad school alive and well, potentially a bit insane, but we can work on that later. Grad school is a stressful time but also a great time in your life. I want to discuss some of the reasons for stress and also want to discuss ways you can reduce this stress.

1) The workload is too much

I think that this is the main cause of stress in grad school. The first two years of a program will be heavy with coursework and maybe a few experiments here and there. This will be a bit overwhelming at first because you might not be used to this workload. For some individuals, undergrad was a cake walk and then they decided to go to grad school. The first assignment you have might be a 10 page analysis on the origins of life or something like that. If you come from a major that was easy, you can see how grad school might kick your butt at first. Many majors that were hard just stay right on track with the level of difficulty. Engineering, for example, is the same thig but you’ll probably write a bit more in your classes.

You will have a smaller course load than undergrad but you will be plenty busy. In grad school, the professors expect you to work, and work hard. You’ll get plenty of assignments to do on top of your lab work. This can definitely be extremely stressful and anxiety inducing.

2) You may not have any support

I think a huge part of stress in grad school is doing research alone. You don’t really have the support of others because, frankly, they have no idea what you even do. You will be alone most of the time and that can be stressful and a bit depressing. Stressful, because you end up putting way too much pressure on yourself, and depressing, because, well, you’re alone. These two, mixed together, is a dangerous concoction.

Not having the support of others can make the whole experience super stressful. As I said above, you’ll start pushing yourself harder and harder and just stressing yourself out because you don’t have anyone to tell you that it’s good enough. I wish this wasn’t a thing in grad school and I wish people didn’t encourage pushing yourself that hard as well.

3) You won’t have a lot of time to interact and make friends

Sure, you will make friends, I wrote an article on how to (here), but you might not be as social as you were in undergrad. You may also find it a bit difficult to make friends. That just adds to the stress already built up. I found that not having a support group (aka friends) made it hard to vent and release some pent of stress from school. You may also feel stressed trying to get friends as well. No one wants to feel lonely while spending 5+ years in a grad program.

You will feel stressed to find friends and that can make things very hard for you in grad school. There are many ways to help to relieve this stress which I will talk about later in this post.

4) Financial Stress

Grad school stress is brought on by a ton of different things and I think financial stress is one of the big reasons for it. There is so much uncertainty in grad school and you might not know if you’ll be able to afford to eat next week. You don’t get paid that much in grad school, and holding a part-time job during can be almost impossible. I have written a ton about how to make money in grad school, but it doesn’t help that much with the stress. You might be adding even more stress to your experience because you are working extra to pay bills.

You’re practically poor in grad school and that’s just how it is, unfortunately. We are apprentices so they don’t have to really pay us more, since we are “learning the trade”. Many of us have families to take care of and loved ones. So, money can be a problem. Once I figure a sure-fire way to not be poor, I’ll let you guys know. Until then, we just carry on.

What to do to Deal With Grad School Stress?

There are many things that I discuss on my website about dealing with stress. In fact, the main reason for the blog was how to be mindful and reduce the hardships of grad school. Check out my other blogs (here) for more incite. Anyway, let’s discuss a few ways in which we can reduce grad school stress and potentially thrive off it.

1) Get organized.

This is such a simple thing as well as highly effective. It is so easy to just have papers all around, no planner whatsoever, and nothing to keep your organized. This can make it harder to get things done due to clutter as well as make things very stressful due to lack of organization. First, get yourself a planner so write down all deadlines and what to do everyday. Next, clean your desk. The more clutter, the more likely you misplace something important. Organization will make it easy to find things you need and you won’t feel as overwhelmed by clutter. The planner will keep you on top of assignments and deadlines.

The first thing that I did when I was overwhelmed with work was writing everything down in my planner. I saw how much work I need to do and when it was due. This allowed me to schedule my days to work on assignments exclusively and my productivity increased drastically. I also decluttered my desk and actually found some pretty important documents! Yay to decluttering.

2) Make sure to take breaks

I wrote the other day about how to prevent burnout. Constant stress in grad school can most definitely lead to burnout and a potential mental breakdown. When overly stressed, you need to take a moment and just relax. Meditate for like 15 minutes or go on a long walk. Get away from work for a while and things will get better. You may just be caught up in the moment and feel overwhelmed. After a nice little break, you might find clarity and realize that it’s not that bad.

Breaks will also prevent chronic stress from happening. This will make your grad school experience terrible and you do not want that. Remember that relaxation and rest are key components to productivity and stress reduction.

3) Seek out help

I think this is a very important way to reduce stress, yet people often don’t do it. It is amazing how reaching out to someone for help will alleviate so much stress in your life. If you are feeling overwhelmed with school, reach out to a professor or adviser and ask them for advice. May reach out to the professor of the courses you take and ask for an extension if you are feeling overwhelmed. They will most likely help you out. If you are really struggling, reach out to your friends and family for support. They will gladly help.

There are many places on campus where you can reach out to reduce stress. Study groups, student health centers, and tutoring places. All free to grad students. Take full advantage of these to help and reduce the overwhelming feelings you get in grad school.

4) Learn to shop deals

Things are getting pricey these days (thanks inflation), which will make financial burdens worse. One way to deal with this is shop deals. Take full advantage of being a student and look for student discounts. If you like music, Spotify has a monthly subscription for students that’s $5.99 and include premium Spotify and also Hulu. If you love Amazon, apply for their student program for a discounted Amazon prime membership. You will soon realize that you don’t have to deprive yourself of luxuries in life if you shop deals and use student discounts. Do this will keep money in your bank account and financial stress away.

Sometimes money can get really tight in grad school. You may even need to take out loans. This is fine as long as it helps to reduce that burden. Taking loans out is scary, but sometimes necessary to make sure to finish your degree. Take out loans only if you absolutely need to. Interest rates for paying them back can be high.

5) Exercise Please!

Everyone knows that exercise is a great stress reliever. So, why don’t we do it more? Well, people are so overwhelmed with stuff that they may be too tired or they just don’t have time to do it. We need to incorporate exercise into our life to make sure that stress doesn’t get the best of us. Take a look at this article by May Clinic. They go over all the different ways in which exercise helps you manage stress. Some of these include improving mood, reducing the negative effects of stress, as well as pumping up your endorphins. Really, guys and gals, go exercise. Heck, just go on a walk. That will make things a lot better for you.

6) Reduce Grad School Stress By Having Fun

Last, but certainly not least, have fun. Make grad school a fun experience. Try and have fun with work and make that a fun experience too. You’ll notice that your stress will probably come from how you perceive doing something. You may feel more stressed if you have to do something that you don’t find fun. Try and make those things fun by turning them into a game or giving yourself a prize for completing it. This will reduce the stress from doing it.

Final Thoughts

Grad school stress is terrible. You may feel more stressed than ever, especially towards the end. Try to combat these feelings if you can. It will make the whole 2 to 8 years way easier and quite enjoyable.

For those in grad school or those that have finished, how did you reduce stress or deal with it while you were doing your studies? Let us know in the comments. Thanks.

Financial Stress in Grad School

I wanted to write about something that is hitting hard for quite a few of us lately, financial stress. That is the stress of being poor in grad school. I have written about dealing with finances in grad school before and how to reduce spending (link here)(here‘s another great resource). This blog is about dealing with the stress that comes from grad school finances. Being poor for many years is part of the process, unfortunately, and I am here to tell you that your concerns are justified. It may be tough now, but I promise you that it will be worth it.

Couple Sitting on the Couch

One of the biggest anxiety triggers that I have are my finances. Even something as small as taking my cat to the vet caused me to have a panic attack at 2 am. Luckily, I am skilled in coping mechanisms so I was able to reduce anxiety enough to get back to sleep. I am not in the worst financial situation by any means, but I know many people in grad school that are. Financial stress can really lead to many problems and ultimately cause an individual to leave the program altogether. Something that none of us want to happen.

Macbook Pro Beside Papers

The graduate union on campus recently posted a survey about the financial struggles that graduates face. The results were extremely alarming and extremely sad. People were taking multiple part-time jobs on top of working full time just to pay fore housing. Many people couldn’t even afford groceries because they had to pay for other expenses first.

U.s. Dollar Banknote Lot

Grad school stipends are extremely low. I remember receiving my appointment letter and freaking out because I was going to make about 40% less money by going to grad school than staying at my job. I told myself that 1) receiving a PhD will be worth it and 2) this will be quite a great adventure. Man, was I right about both. I think a huge stressor is seeing people that we graduated undergrad with getting senior positions and making six figures while we eat leftover pizza and ramen. It is a struggle.

For those that are reading this and struggling to make ends meet in grad school, you are not alone. It is something that we are all facing and will probably continue to face. I promise you that this will pass and you will get a career that pays you fairly. This is a learning experience and will be beneficial, I am sure of it. There are many resources that I am sure your college provides. I suggest taking a look to see what resources there are and taking full advantage of them.

One benefit is you will know how to manage money really well, a skill many people do not have. You will also know how to shop bargains, have fun without spending money, and I believe you will find happiness in small things, rather than large, fancy, things. This is something that I found to be 100% true. I have started to really appreciate all of the free things in my life such as long walks, trail hiking, and spending time at my pool (I know it’s not free but you aren’t spending any extra money).

This chapter of your life is quite hard. Will it be the hardest part? I don’t know, but it will be difficult in many ways. I hope that financial problems do not cause any extra stress in your life, like it has with me. One day, we will all be OK.

Ways to Reduce Stress In Grad School

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.

1. Exercise

reduce stress in grad school with exercise

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

reduce stress in grad school with a massage

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

how to reduce stress in grad school with tea

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

Silhouette of Man at Daytime

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

Person Holding Blue Ballpoint Pen Writing in Notebook

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.

7. Breathe

Man Wearing Black Cap With Eyes Closed Under Cloudy Sky

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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Helping Others Cope with Stress and Anxiety

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Selective Focus Photography of a Man Holding His Head and Eyeglasses Sitting Beside a Table

I post a ton of content on how to improve your life, but I rarely post anything about helping others. In therapy, I was told that one method to reducing the anxiety that I was feeling was to help something in a similar situation by introducing mindfulness. I am not going to lie, I was a bit selfish and did not want to share the tools I had to cope, but I did anyway. My therapist was 100% right because I found that by helping others, I helped myself. I learned a better way of coping with my mental state and I was able to help someone else too.

Grad school….sheesh

Grad school is just stressful. Often times, it can be flat out overwhelming. Unfortunately that is just how it is. Learning the many ways of coping with the stress will always allow you to come out on top. Helping others with stress and anxiety management, will allow you to thrive. I have many very anxious friends that come to me, asking for helpful ways of managing anxiety. I absolutely love this because it gives me a moment to teach something as well as help my friend who is having a rough time. If you are overly anxious or stressed, you know how hard it is to deal with and you would do anything to cope with it.

Help others with their anxiety

Here are a few things you can do to help someone who is overwhelmed or anxious:

1)Listen to them. Just listen to everything they have to say because this may help relieve some of that stress/anxiety.

2) After listening, do not try and compare how stressful your life is to theirs. This is creating a competition and you do not want that. Just listen and be respectful.

3) Reassure them that the situation will pass. I like to say something like “you have survived 100% of the hardships in your life. You will get through this.” Often times, saying this will even calm yourself down quite a bit. It’s a win-win.

4) Introduce them to meditation. This one is pretty self explanatory. Check out my guide on how to get started (here)

5) Offer to go on a walk with them and show them how exercise is an amazing way to reduce these feelings. When nothing else works, I go for a very long walk. The more rigorous the exercise, the better you will feel afterwards.

6) If they are really struggling, support them to seek professional help. Seeking help is one of the bravest things anyone can do and it is worth it. Online-Therapy (here) and Talkspace (here) are always great choices. Betterhelp (here) is another service that is well worth it as well.

7) Help them identify triggers or identify what is causing so much stress. Let them talk through it because they may realize that it’s not as bad as their mind is making it out to be.

8) Most importantly, this is for yourself, be like a dust pan. If you listen to your friend or whoever, do not hold on to the stuff they tell you. Listen but learn to let it go afterwards. So often we hold onto what other people are going through and make it part of our life. You do not need additional stress, so learn to let it all go.

Final Thought

We live in a society that shuns you for reaching out for help. Luckily, mental health is becoming very important, especially now since Covid has affected so many people. This is a great time to use what works best for you to help your neighbor, or your friend, or even a family member. Everyone in the world is going through some form of bad time. No one has it easy and everything is perfect. People really struggle out their and it is up to us to help them out. Show a bit of kindness today and everyday. You will be surprised at how happy you will become. I hope you have a wonderful day and semester!

Moving During Grad School

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Moving during grad school can be annoying. 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.

Moving during grad school can be exciting, though, and often we tend to look at the negative sides and not the positive aspects of it. I want to go over the many different ways to prepare for the move out day during grad school to mae sure that things go smoothly and efficiently.

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.

Tips on moving during grad school

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. Make a list of things that need to be set aside and also a list of things you probably don’t need anymore. Look around your room and decide what will come and what is going in the trash.

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. I like going to the Good Will down the street. If you are going to do this, I’d suggest doing it very early into the moving season. Many people drop stuff off there and they do hit a limit eventually. You don’t want to pack everything up, drive there, and find out they won’t take your stuff. Sometimes, larger items such as beds and furniture can stay in the current residence. Ask your landlord if this is ok which will make the move way easier since you don’t have to lug around any heavy items.

3) Ask for help.

My roommates helped a ton and so did my friends. Do not do the move alone! Moving alone is awful and can be dangerous at some times. This is why, when moving in grad school, always ask for a little assistance. Your neighbors might help, the friends you have will definitely help, and se if your parents or relatives can join. Make a whole party. Moving really isn’t fun without 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!! Oh, and make sure there is plenty of water. You will be working hard and you’ll need it.

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 $$$. It is also nice to just deep clean the place anyway. Some places haven’t been thoroughly cleaned in years and it is time.

Make sure to vacuum all of the nooks and crannies and make sure the whole place sparkles. You do not want your landlord to hold on to that security deposit because there was trash in a corner of the house. If you have roommates, make sure they are cleaning as well. Put on some music, get on clothes that you won’t mind cleaning in, and get to town. Honestly, this is one of the biggest pains in the neck when it comes to moving in grad school, but it is essential.

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. Always take breaks. In fact, make sure that you schedule breaks into your cleaning and moving schedule. This comes with the “plan ahead” part. You will be surprised how much effort it takes to move during grad school. You’ll be exhausted by the end of the day and that’s why relaxing is so important. Make sure to schedule some time, like 10 minutes every hour, to just sit and have some water.

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. Makes sure to play music that everyone in the place loves. This will make sure that everyone is efficiently working and aren’t thrown off by some music they don’t like. Bust out your stereo and crank up the volume. Just try and do this during the day, lol. you don’t want your neighbors calling the cops.

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. This is huge! The most frustrating thing that you can have happen is trying to find something important at your next place, but not being able to because it’s hidden away in an unknown box. Make suure to label the boxes and keep them pretty categorized. Put pots and pans in one box and maybe desk stuff in another. This will make unpacking a piece of cake and you won’t lose any items in the process.

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.

Since you live in a college town, U-hauls will be seen as essential. People are constantly moving from place to place in college. This si why booking one early basically secures your chance of having an easy transition to your new place. Storage units can fill up quickly too. Book them at least a month ahead of move-out. You may have to search since people have already booked them, but you’ll find something. If you are looking a week prior to move-out, good luck.

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. So make sure that you cancel prior to leaving. This is as easy as a phone call or just going online and cancelling. I am pretty sure you can set the date to when they turn off utilities. Sometimes, your landlord may say to keep them on. In this case, follow their instructions but make it clear that you don’t pay for anything after your move-out date. Don’t get conned into paying for something that you’re not using.

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. If you know that you are going to move out, then start saving now. Security deposits, pet fees, and your first month’s rent can really break the bank. You do not want to be living in a place and not being able to eat because you spent all of your money on the rent and fees. Start saving as soon as you can and set aside this money as “moving money”. You’ll also need some for the pizza you are buying everyone for helping you move lol.

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.

Final Thought

Moving while in grad school doesn’t have to be terrible. With the right amount of planning ahead, it can actually be quite fun. Sometimes, outside factors make it hard to stay in one place so you have to move. If this is the case, follow my step by step approach and your move out will be easy and successful.

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.

Grad School Stress: How to Relieve it?

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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.

In grad school, you are going to experience moments of extremes stress. The end of the year, for example, is always a very stressful time. Creating good habits to manage that stress can allow you to be able to combat the stressful situation when the time comes. Today, I want to bring up the 16 different methods that I use to relieve stress during grad school.

If you are in grad school, lease take the time to invest in a great stress reliever. It will save you so much frustration and keep you going for the long haul. Trust me when I say, having one of these or all of these in your stress reduction tool belt is essential to survive nd thrive in academia. So, let us get into the list of stress relievers for grad school.

grad school stress

Here’s a list of things you can do to relieve grad school stress

exercise to relieve grad school stress

1. Exercise at the gym.

This is my go to when it comes to relieving stress. Honestly, just working out with some loud music and heavy weights is the perfect way to put yourself in a great mood. It pumps up your endorphins and puts you in a fantastic mood. Get moving guys! I know you might not have time but you can always make time!

meditation to reduce grad school stress

2.Meditate

Meditation doesn’t have to be an hour long event. When you start feeling a bit overwhelmed and stressed in grad school, take a 5 to 10 minute break and just breath. Stay off your phone unless you using a mediation app or YouTube meditation sessions. 10 minutes is all it takes and you will immediately see a difference. I do this quite often and it has helped manage the stress and my blood pressure lol.

3.Put on classical music or Lo-fi music

When you have a deadline to hit, you need to focus. Nothing beats the power of classical or Lo-fi music to help you out. I love Heavy Rain Lofi. Here is a link to YouTube where you can explore those channels. For some odd reason (probably backed by science), this music just keeps you calm and reduces stress a ton. Try it out and see if it works for you.

less caffeine

4.Drink less caffeine.

Here me out on this one. Yes, caffeine is amazing but it will drive up your anxiety like no other. The amount fo stress you will feel when caffeinated is way more than you would feel with little caffeine. I am not saying to completely cut it out of your diet. Well, if you can, that’s great. I am saying that in high stress times, try and limit the amount or be mindful of the amount that you are drinking. If you normally drink a cup or two of coffee, limit yourself to only that. Any more might cause your stress to sky rocket.

5. Read an article with something happy in it.

Sometimes when I am stressed, I get cranky. I look at life in a negative manner and don’t really see any joy. One weirrd way of reducing stress for me at least is to read an article with something joyful and happy. News articles are always so negative and being stressed at the same time can lead to a badddddd day/week. Try and read an article from a website like HappyNews.com.

6. Follow my breathe.

If you really don’t have enough time to meditate, just try following the breathe for a bit. It is a similar practice to meditation and will definitely calm you down. Take a deep breath in, hold it for 4 seconds, then slowly breath out. Do this a few time and you’ll be slightly less stressed than before. This works well with anxiety as well.

7. Remind yourself that “This too will pass”

Stressful times come and go. It is often very hard to know when the stress in grad school will pass. Just know that it will and remind yourself that it will pass. Stress is a temporary condition that will inevitably pass on it’s own or when something is complete. Remind yourself to hold off until then and this bad time will subside.

8. Watch the scene in Good Will Hunting where Robin Williams and Matt Damon are at the park.

Kind of a weird thing but when I am stressed, I like to watch comforting scenes from movies. I like to completely remove myself from whatever situation I am in and feel comforted in something that is not grad school. I love the movie Good Will Hunting, so I watch scenes from the movie. This often really helps to ground me and not get overwhelmed with stressful thoughts.

9. Watch Good Will Hunting if I have the time lol

I know people that watch whole movies to reduce stress. They are so overwhelmed with things that it makes them freeze almost and they can’t do anything. If you can afford to, and not on a strict deadline, watch a movie. Stay off your phone and just immerse yourself in whatever movie it is. Of course, my go to is Good Will Hunting. Man, it’s just so good.

10. Remind yourself to look for the learning experience or the good that comes from the stressful situation.

Every stressful situation is a way to learn. Make the stressful situation a positive learning experience and you will see that the stress tends to be reduced. Look at all experiences that are difficult a way to learn a new skill or just learn how to manage stress or what methods work.

11.Call up someone to just talk to.

I find that friends and family are great stress outlets. Don’t do this all of the time though. It will help when you are not constantly going to them for stress relief. Call up a friend or relative and just explain to them that you’re stress and need either advice or just someone to talk to. For a brief moment in your life, focus on talking to them and removing yourself from the stress. If you are stuck on something, maybe they will have answers. If nothing else, at least you got to build a good relationship with them by staying in contact!

12. Go on frequent, short, walks

This is my all-time favorite thing to do when I am stressed. I walk so much that I found walking challenges to do just to encourage me to walk even more lol. I also like medals. If you want to know more about the walking challenges, here’s a link to that page. Anyway, going on walks is a magnificent way to reduce grad school stress. It is similar to exercising but you don’t have to push yourself too hard. You can even meditate while walking or focus on your breathe. Both of those things I do. Plus, you get your steps in lol.

13. Pushups

Don’t have time to go on walks, meditate, breath, or anything else? Just do 10 pushups. Go ahead, do them in the office or lab. They are easy to do, you get more exercise, and you will notice that you won’t have time to be stressed while trying to focus on not dying lol. Push ups are a quick and easy way to just reduce a bit of stress that you might feel during the day. Try it out and see if it helps.

14. Get plenty of sleep

I think that most of the stress we feel comes from being overworked and overwhelmed with the ideas of work. This can often be amplified by sleep deprivation. Yes, you want to relax at night and watch TV. Next thing you know, it’s 12 am and you have to get to class in 8 hours. That leaves you with probably less than 8 hours of sleep. Get to bed earlier. Just try it for a few days and you will see that your stress gets reduced and you will work more efficiently. Instead of being at the lab until 9, you’ll get to leave at 6. There will be much less stress.

15. Cook Something or bake something

This one can be helpful and a bit dangerous. If you are so stressed, take the time to bake some comfort food. Make cookies, a cake, anything. Bring some for your lab mates too. They are stressed and need some love as well. Try and not do this all of the time. Many stressed people often resort to stress cooking and then stress eating. It is a vicious cycle that you don’t want to get stuck in. I added this because it is a great way to remove yourself from a stressful situation and relieve that grad school stress.

16. Stop Thinking, Start Doing

The hardest and most stressful part about anything is thinking about it and all of the work that needs to be done to get it finished. This can make things so stressful and even more so when you find out that you have less time to accomplish it because you spent all that time thinking about it. To tackle the stress, you must tackle the stressor. If you have a presentation to make, do it! Focus on getting it done and stop thinking about it. The quicker you finsih it, the less stressed you will be.

Final Thoughts

This was a pretty long list of things to relieve stress in grad school, 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. As always, I hope you guys have an amazing and stress free day. I will see you all in the next one. Peace.

**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.