The demands of graduate school have a way of coming at us at times like a rip tide….threatening to sweep us off course and away from our goals and dreams for the future.
Grad school can be a challenging and intense experience. Unlike college, where oftentimes cramming the night before could still result in decent grades and where there was plenty of time for fun and fraternizing, being a graduate student is a full-time job that requires heightened self-discipline, time-management and study skills.
In order to be up to the challenge, grad students need to be in tip-top mental and physical shape. Here are some healthy habits to get you there.
Make time for exercise
Your body was made to move. It won’t accept any excuses either and if you don’t give it what it wants, it will make its displeasure known by way of mental and physical sub-par functioning. So get moving! Studies show that walking just half an hour a day is all you need to reap a boatload of benefits for both your mind and body. More than 2,400 years ago, Hippocrates said, “Walking is a man’s best medicine!” And that still applies today.
Making nutritious food choices can help keep your energy levels optimal and bolster your immunity to illnesses from colds to cancer. The U.S. Government’s MyPlate initiative advises us to fill our plates halfway with fruit and veggies, a quarter way with protein and another quarter with whole grain carbs. This advice, and the image on their site, replaces the recommendations of the traditional Food Pyramid and is backed by loads of research and studies. Additionally, they advise eating vegetables and fruit in a variety of colors throughout the day and week to get the widest variety of nutrients.
Practice being Present
Mindfulness gives the mind a rest from stressful thoughts about the past and the future: Most people without being conscious of it are mentally replaying painful experiences from the recent or distant past over and over again. We stress about events in the future as well in a continuous pattern. This type of thinking is exhausting and destructive and saps us of our energy and joy. Paying attention to what is happening in the present moment is an escape and a way out of these habitual and harmful thought patterns.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness…but here’s an informal way suggested by Harvard Medical School’s HelpGuide:
You can also cultivate mindfulness informally by focusing your attention on your moment-to-moment sensations during everyday activities. This is done by single-tasking—doing one thing at a time and giving it your full attention. As you floss your teeth, pet the dog, or eat an apple, slow down the process and be fully present as it unfolds and involves all of your senses.
We wish you much health and success in graduate school and beyond.