This post is specifically addressing end-of-the-semester Grad School meltdowns, but these tips would help anyone going through a particularly busy time at work. When life seems like a striving and a striving, and an ending in nothing, you gotta pull yourself up out of that existential funk. I think that maintaining a modicum of normality even when you feel completely overwhelmed staves off complete chaos.
1. Make Sure You Have Food In The House
Rule number 1 is to make sure you have food in the house. When you are stressed, cranky, and angry, you aren’t in a place to enjoy a three-hour sit-down meal. Go on a grocery store run and get all the food that you will need to make it through the week. Once you have that done, you’ll have one less chore to worry about. You can get back to your work, or you can take some time to really appreciate the wainscotting.
2. Crockpots and Ricemakers- Use Them. Then Buy them Christmas Gifts To Show You Care.
Crockpots and Ricemakers are like servants with very specific functions. They will do pretty much all the cooking for you. I’m making two crockpot recipes this week, and I’m also using my rice cooker twice.
3. Exercise Of Your Choosing
Don’t worry-I’m not going to demand that you start lifting weights. Just make sure that you get some nice long walks in. I’m 23% less cranky all day when I walk to campus instead of driving. Even if you are piled high and deeper, get out there and move around.
4. Schedule, Schedule, Schedule
I cope with stress by hyperscheduling. It helps me feel in control. Once I have all my activities lined out, blocks of time to set aside to set on projects, and time reserved for grading and other teacherly responsibilities, I feel much better. My schedule looks packed and crazy for sure, but it looks doable. Usually.
5. Let Some Things Slide
You can have it all, but you can’t have it all during the last few weeks of the semester if you are a grad student. Let some obligations slide if you can. Do only the cleans that let you feel comfortable in your home. For me, that’s the kitchen and the floors. Anything else, I’ll deal with it later.
6. Expert Help
If the stress is terrible, get thee to a physician. Seriously, it’s 2011. There’s no need to suffer needlessly when you can take a pill that will put you to sleep, make you feel less anxious, or help you concentrate. If you are a student, don’t be afraid to visit your health center with your mental health complaints. It can help.
7. Relaxing Music
When I’m keyed up, the sound of an intercom or another person’s phone conversation can send me over the edge. I’m aware that my reaction isn’t healthy. Normally I’m pretty laid back. But on the days I have the labor of the Aegean stables before me and the loud laughter of the history department surrounding me, I slip on some headphones and tune everybody else out. BLISS.
8. Your Grad School Friends
Yes, they are probably all busy right now, but they are also just as stressed. You all need a break, so why not set something up. On Thursday, I’m having some people over to make a fun 1950s meal. Sometimes, it can help just knowing that you’ve got something at the end of the week to look forward to. Plan something amazing, like going on a boat.