I clearly remember when my excitement for the first day of school developed. It was our yearly trips to the store for back to school supplies, the new book bag, the excitement of seeing all of your school friends, and even the stress of trying to read four summer reading books in two weeks that I loved. It was the prospect of starting over that I lived for and which has led me to strive to become a life long student.
On Monday morning as I drove out of my neighborhood I was greeted by the craziness of the first day of school. Yellow school buses, children in uniforms, and parents nervously trying to pass on their kids to their appropriate teacher while simultaneously attempting to make it to work on time. That was elementary school, now the stakes are higher. Now as graduate students, the beginning of a new semester is synonymous with stress, but for me a health balance of stress and excitement, but nevertheless stress. You purchase hundreds of dollars in textbooks, you have your tuition bill looming, and worst of all trying to figure out how you are going to balance classes, work, family, and manage to pay all of the bills life requires of you.
Here are a few ideas of how to manage stress and prepare for another semester.
1.Journaling: I know this sounds strange and out dated but it offers al the same benefits it did when you were a kid. It is an “all ears” place to vent your frustrations and celebrate successes. Not to mention the opportunity to look back and laugh at your years in graduate school. For those of you who are Mac users, your iCal is a great place to store notes on your day. It can even save your butt when you have noted when your professor said you could turn in that paper late and he “forgets.”
2.List Making: This technique is not only efficient but a great way to shut off your brain before bed. Have you ever had night when you just tossed and turned because you kept on going over in your head the ten million things you have to do tomorrow? Make it a habit to have a blank note pad by your bed and before bed list everything you need and want to accomplish tomorrow. This will also help you avoid forgetting really important things. Make it a habit. There is nothing more satisfying then scratching things off your list the following day.
3.Unplug Yourself: This means you Blackberry addict. You should have sometime during your day when you shut off all electronics and just be. Remind yourself that the world will not end if you are not connected. During this time, read a book for leisure (yes this is still possible while you are a student), take a nap, go for a walk, or just relax.
4.Exercise: This is the best advice that everyone ignores. We tell ourselves that we are just too busy to exercise but I promise you, ignoring it to doing more harm than good. Make time to take a brisk walk, to do stretches in the morning, to go for a swim in the evenings. It may seem like a chore but I guarantee that you will feel better when you are done. We aren’t made to sit around all day. It makes us crazy and isn’t any better for our health. Exercise is the single most reliable way to make us feel more alive, energetic, and less stressed. I promise.
Jessica Diaz is a Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, a third-year doctoral student, and was a student representative on ACA’s Governing Council.