Stephen Hawking rightly said, “Work gives you meaning and purpose, and life is empty without it.” However, I’d revise that to say that “Meaningful work gives us direction in life.” The graduate school journey is one such experience. It gives us the chance to unlock our potential, and truly bring out our strengths, whilst providing room to work on our weaknesses.
Student life is often viewed as a platform for both learners and implementers. It could be summed up as a range of emotions, from excitement to exasperation, and determination to perseverance; all could be tested simultaneously. It’s possibly the best time to discover the underlying values one believes in, and expose them to critique in front of an honest, and encouraging audience. It is a time for reflection and introspection, which can be a defining moment for one, while for others, might bring decisiveness and clarity in life.
Throughout the pandemic, students have struggled to maintain grades and consistency, virtually. Amidst this exhilarating phase, it is essential to keep up with a healthy mind, body, and soul. Whether it’s a plethora of assignment/presentation deadlines or a midterm week, practicing self-care, not only serves as a medium to calm one’s anxiety and stress.
Here are a few self-care tips for a healthy & balanced student life:
1. Schedule your week
Planning leads to a prepared mindset. Following up with tasks each day, knowing that the next day has its own set of chores, builds consistency and discipline. This also keeps one from dragging their workload until weekends, which can comfortably be spent either for recreation or performing household errands.
2. Hop to your hobbies
Workload as an undergraduate/graduate student could be exhausting. Refuel yourself by pursuing an area of interest to spark positivity and happiness. It helps to destress and re-ignite your thought process. You could listen to your favourite playlist, pen your thoughts, play your favourite sport or dance your shoes off!
Pro-tip: If you are not in the mood to start something afresh, reboot yourself by closing your eyes, calming the storm of thoughts, and putting your mind at ease. Easier said than done, but 5 minutes of mindfulness is powerful enough to build a disciplined and unwavering outlook.
3. The Gratitude + Achievement Journal
A common human trait is the ability to focus greatly on negatives, rather than embracing the positives. The short-term goals, made and achieved, often go unnoticed under the umbrella of desire. Moreover, one must keep reminding themselves of their loving support circle, and the valuable resources they own. Build a bulleted list of your achievements so far, no matter how small they are, as long as they retain some significance in your life. Also, create a list of the people/things/situations you are grateful for. Maintain this diary and read it regularly, to validate your self-esteem, and drive motivation.
4. Bet to Sweat
Might be hard to believe for some, but keeping your body fit is the key to preparing a resilient and adaptive personality. Apart from preventing us from contracting severe diseases, being active helps us remain productive throughout the day, thereby releasing stress and maintaining a healthy brain. Exercising is also known to stimulate positive hormonal activity. So, whether you are an amateur who loves a quick warm-up to freshen their mood or a fitness enthusiast who swears by the gym, uphold the regime!
5. Eat, Treat, Sleep, Repeat
Health is majorly dependent on our diet. As students, we tend to skip cooking and end up eating out (oftentimes junk food). When we eat high amounts of processed foods, it harms our bodies and mental well-being. Instead of being creative and dynamic, our bodies often go lethargic after consistent consumption of unhealthy food. It is widely known that our bodies respond to the food we eat. For example, we often feel super light and refreshed after having a salad rather than a burger! Also, you could save a decent amount from your budget by eliminating frequent takeouts. Although it’s certainly enjoyable if we treat ourselves once in a while, it’s good to build healthy habits by opting for a fresh meal from your kitchen instead of a takeout!
A good night’s sleep is equally important. If we get less sleep at night, it reduces our efficiency during the day! With scheduled weeks and adhering to a set bedtime wherein we get 7-8 hours of sound sleep, it will surely help us wake up feeling energized.
In such unprecedented times, we need to sustain our lives with grit, and as students, embracing such habits would help us to not only cope with our work but also, enjoy this unique experience.
About the Author
Harnoor is an M.Sc Finance candidate at the Beedie School of Business. She is the ESG co-lead for Canada’s largest student-run fund. A sustainability and social work enthusiast, she takes pride in her values and speaks for the disenfranchised! Being bi-lingual, she loves to read and write in her choice of language, and can swiftly switch from one to another. From investment analysis to business management, she is a curious learner, a keen observer, and an articulate speaker! A stargazer at heart, pick a topic and she is ready to learn! 😊