Throughout graduate school, exams loom, papers always need revising, and nagging deadlines keep us awake and stressed. And to add our anxiety we have to deal with family pressures. I’m currently in grad school at Drexel in Phila., I work full time for a global consulting firm, and I take care of an elderly parent with dementia. Here are 5 tips for coping with graduate school stress that help me keep my sanity.
1. Start studying now. Don’t wait. Procrastination will perpetuate feelings of helplessness — you’ll feel more stressed and out of control if you put off your work. The same holds true for papers. Begin as early as you can.
2. Don’t cram. Psychological research shows that repeated exposure to your course material over several sessions is better than what psychologists refer to as “massed practice” — cramming. You’re more likely to understand and retain material that you’ve covered several times over a period of days or even weeks than material crammed over a 1-2 day period.
3. Prioritize. Make a list of all that needs to be completed. Then prioritize your list, noting due dates as well as rating the overall importance of each item. Use this list to organize your study time.
4. Sleep. Though it might seem like a good idea to pull an all-nighter to get that paper finished, you’re better off getting some sleep and returning to it in the morning. Research shows that we need sleep in order to function well.
5. Exercise. “Why should I spend precious time on exercise?” you ask? Exercise is one of the best stress-relievers around. Really. When we’re stressed we experience elevated levels of stress hormones that keep us wound up. We experience tightened muscles and short tempers. Exercise permits us to release the pent-up energy.
All of these tips energize me and help me to focus better. If you have other tips for dealing with stress, please share them with readers. Thank you.