Self-Care Strategies to Help You Through Grad School

Maintaining your physical and mental well-being is essential to your success during grad school. Between finding time for schoolwork, family, career, and other obligations, sometimes our personal needs are pushed aside. The fact is that prioritizing your self-care is crucial. After all, you can’t give what you don’t have, and if you are running on empty, you can’t perform at your best. 

While self-care and remaining active come easy to some, getting started can be a bit more difficult for others. If you’re having trouble figuring out ways to stay mentally and physically fit, we’ve put together a list of suggestions to help you remain on top of your game on your path to graduation.  

Move Your Body

This one may seem obvious, but there are many people who don’t get enough exercise. It’s common knowledge that exercise helps improve your physical health, but did you know it can also help improve your mental health? Making time to exercise, even just going for a quick walk during the day, can help boost your energy and clear your head. 

Exercise is linked to a number of benefits, including improving memory and thinking skills which will serve you well as you continue your studies. Getting proper exercise can also improve your sleep, reduce stress and anxiety, and improve your ability to focus and concentrate, among many other benefits. 

Eat More Brain Food

You don’t have to eat spinach and kale at every meal, but incorporating dark leafy greens and other natural, immune system-boosting foods can do wonders for your mental and physical health.  

There’s still a time and place for pizza night, but think about how much better you’d feel if you regularly ate some of these delicious and nutritious brain-boosting foods:

  • Green Veggies
  • Fatty Fish
  • Berries
  • Tea & Coffee
  • Walnuts

Try a Massage

Getting a massage might feel like something you do to pamper yourself on special occasions. But many experts agree that massage therapy can help with stress relief on both the physical and psychological levels. In fact, a massage can improve brain health and have positive effects on focus and clarity.  

Or perhaps aromatherapy is your thing. Think about choosing a nice spot to study and applying an essential oil to your skin to see what it can do for your stress and anxiety. Try combing the two for additional relaxation benefits.  

Enhance Your Social Life

It might seem counterintuitive to get away from your studies when you’re stressing about them but making time for socialization is not only a good idea, it is essential for your well-being. Maintaining a healthy social life is key to achieving a sustainable balance between school, work, and your personal life. Socializing is not only good for your body, but it’s also good for your mind. Research has shown that social interaction can help sharpen memory and cognitive skills, improve recall, and make us more resilient to stress. Whether scheduling a happy hour or a lunch date, socialization enables you to decompress, lightens your mood, and adds to overall happiness. 

Take Breaks

There’s only so much time in the day, and taking a break might feel impossible, but slowing things down to allow yourself some mental and physical rest can boost performance! Whether relaxing, chatting with friends, or going for a walk, taking a mental or physical break has been shown to improve productivity. Although we often want to power through, taking breaks refreshes your brain, helps restore motivation and helps you stay focused. Who couldn’t use more motivation and focus when writing a paper?  

Other positive outcomes from taking breaks include: 

  • Reduced stress
  • Increased levels of energy
  • Improved mood

Ask for Help

It’s easy to isolate ourselves and make the journey a solo mission, but if you take a step back, you will realize that many people are cheering you on and ready to help you achieve your goals. Whether it’s your friends, family, a professor, or an advisor, a whole team is ready to support you whenever you are in need. If you are struggling, take a moment to identify what exactly you need, who you can ask for help, and what you should ask. Including others along the way is a great way to build a strong support network to help get you through graduate school. 

Pursuing your graduate degree is incredibly exciting and rewarding; it takes a lot of energy and focus. Be mindful along the way and dedicate time and space to practice these healthy self-care strategies. Integrating self-care into your weekly routine will pay dividends in supporting the success of your grad school journey and help you lower stress and be happier and healthier. It will make the journey that much more rewarding! 

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