Practicing Self-Care in Graduate School

By Sophia Lamb, MPH’23 in Global Environmental Health

Graduate school is a lot of work and can sometimes be overwhelming, especially if you have been out of school for a few years and are still adjusting back to an academic lifestyle. It’s important to take care of yourself and allow for time to relax and have fun! Here are a few recommendations for how you can maintain self-care here at Rollins and any other graduate school you decide to attend.

Establish Healthy Sleep Hygiene
If you are anything like me, then you cannot function without sleep. Getting in the habit of waking up and falling asleep around the same time can help make sure you get the right amount of sleep. Limiting screen time before bed can also help you fall asleep faster and help you get a better night’s rest.

Reduce Stress by Staying on Top of Assignments
Sometimes school can get a little hectic when it seems as though you have big assignments due for each class within the span of a few days. One thing that helps is to start early on long-term projects, so that when the time does come to turn it in, you don’t feel too overwhelmed. If you don’t know where to start, you can always build momentum by doing small tasks first. Also, don’t be afraid to seek help and advice from your professors, and even your peers when permitted.

Develop a Good Study Rhythm
Make sure to incorporate study breaks every so often, or else big assignments can seem more daunting. Also, make sure to get up and move around after an hour or so. As someone who has had back issues, I found that sitting a lot during grad school began to aggravate my back even more. Once I started moving around more throughout the day, it definitely helped my body feel better.

Aim to Eat Healthier
It’s important eat a healthy mix of not only fruits and vegetables, but all the other food groups as well. If you need help figuring out where to start, Emory offers free sessions with a nutritionist/dietician through Student Health Services. Some weeks are busier than others, so also make sure to have a solid restaurant you can buy from or a quick recipe you can make when you are short on cooking time.

All Emory student get access to the Woodruff Physical Education Center, also known as the WoodPec. You have the ability to use the gym during open hours and to access free workout classes. You don’t need to exercise every day, but it is important to do so every few days because exercising can help you focus better and stabilize your mood.  

Ask for help if you need it
Emory has a variety of mental health resources including Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) and TimelyCare appointments. More resources can be found in the RSPH Student Support Toolkit. Another amazing resource is your peers, especially students who have already been in school for a year. Don’t be afraid to ask your peers about what to expect from classes, the best way to manage certain projects, and how they may have dealt with mental obstacles such as imposter syndrome and burnout. Also, it’s important to note that many professors are understanding and willing to give extensions if needed. Just make sure to check with them at the beginning of the semester and before projects are due.

Take time to relax
When you’re feeling super stressed, take time to do something you enjoy or something that can help you relax. For example, you can go for a walk, listen to music, call a friend or even just take a shower. It’s important to take care of your mental well-being or you won’t be able to work at your fullest potential or to help others.

Socialize, but don’t strain your social battery too much
Emory and Rollins host many fun events that students can get involved with. There are also many student organizations at Rollins that help people connect with like-minded students and with others who are like them. Although it’s fun to get involved and meet a lot of people don’t over extend yourself. Sometimes being on campus and talking with people in class is enough. Take it day by day and listen to your body.

Thanks for reading along! These are some of the tricks I use to manage self-care in graduate school and I hope they can be beneficial to you too.

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