Category: Reader Picks

How I Manage Anxiety in Grad School

how to manage anxiety in grad school

Image via STIL through Unsplash

gGrad school is a different beast to undergrad. The stakes are higher, because now, I find myself doing work that can launch a career. And the margin for error is smaller. It doesn’t take much to fail, and if I do, there is often an impact on people other than me. The combined workload of my courses, thesis, and research work is a lot heavier than undergrad, and at this point, I’m also starting to get a very scratchy itch to see what life is like outside of school (I’ve been a student for nearly 20 years!).

If anxiety sets in, I start to feel like I’m in a pressure cooker, and I get a sinking, helpless feeling in my gut when I realize how much I have to do. This is when I tend to procrastinate, which provides a very temporary escape, but in the end, only worsens the way I feel.

I know I’m not alone in this (and if you can relate, neither are you!). Other grad students (see here too) experience anxiety, and it’s something that can be managed. I know that immobilizing nervous feeling all too well, and while I’m far from perfect, I have some strategies for keeping my anxiety under control. I don’t always follow them, but when I do, they help me a lot.

However, I’m not a professional, so don’t substitute this for professional advice. If you’re in need of help, you can go to your local student wellness office. If you’re in a crisis, you can call your local emergency number.

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2017 Was Hard, But I’m Still Grateful

christmas dinner gratitude grateful

MMerry Christmas & happy holidays! Tradition dictates that the end of the year is when we reflect on the past year, so here’s my version. This year was a strange one. There were some heavy losses mixed in with the start of some really promising things.

The hard stuff included a death of a close loved one, being rejected from professional school again & the blow to my career dreams. Outside of myself, this has been a crazy year  for current events, from Hurricanes Irma and Maria, to the slave trade in Libya, to the Rohingya refugee crisis, to the growing gap between the rich & the underprivileged in Canada & the US.

The good stuff included starting grad school, getting closer with my family & friends, dating, having hope for the future, doing more than I thought I was capable of, completing my year without makeup, and just not having to worry about too much in the grand scheme of things.

Here’s what I’m grateful for in 2017.

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What I Learned From a Year Without Makeup – Part 2

a year without makeup

I gave up makeup for a year for spiritual reasons, and learned a lot from the experience, spiritually and in other areas of life. Here’s Part 2 of the lessons I learned. Read Part 1 here. Read the start of the journey here.

II am sure a brilliant social scientist has written about this somewhere, but people like and are interested in pretty things and people, and pay them attention accordingly.

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What I Learned From a Year Without Makeup – Part 1

a year without makeup

I gave up makeup for a year for spiritual reasons, and learned a lot from the experience, spiritually and in other areas of life. Here’s Part 1 of the lessons I learned. Read Part 2 here. Read the start of my journey here

gGiving up makeup for a year was a faith-based decision. I don’t think I would have done it if I didn’t feel that it was getting in the way of having a relationship with God.

Giving up makeup, for me, actually meant giving up a large part of my external beauty, which in turn meant giving up a crutch I had been relying on for years. That was the problem: my beauty was essentially a foundation upon which I tried to build my relationships to other people and the world.

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How I Manage My Time: Organization for the Naturally Disorganized

Time Management

gGetting organized was the thing I heard, in some variation, before the start of every school year. Our trips to the store to get school supplies seemed to convey that, the handing out of agendas in class every September seemed to convey that, my Dad telling me that the key to being successful in life was to “be organized and start early,” and yet, somehow, I missed the message.

My desk at school was always a mess, my homework was often late, I was often late, and my parents affectionately called me “Space Cadet” because I was so scatterbrained. I generally felt that I was always running behind my life and trying to catch up with it. Didn’t everybody?

The first time I truly “got” getting organized was in my second year of undergrad, and organization played a big part in my getting my first year of straight As.

One of the most valuable things getting organized taught me was that I can have control over my time.

Thanks to my Dad’s great tips, I’m rediscovering time management lately, and here’s what’s been working for me.

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