September is the awareness month for both self-care and suicide prevention. While you might hear many graduate students talk about their stress like it’s a badge of honor, stress can wreak havoc on both your physical and mental health. While some stress is good, too much can literally make you sick. Stress is a part of life, and though it can be overwhelming at times, there are ways to manage it. What works for one person may not work as well for someone else, so find what works for you.


If the stress gets to be too much and starts to interfere with your participation in every day activities or your ability to fulfill obligations, talk with someone. Call your doctor or go to the student health center or counseling center. Sometimes people need to talk with a professional counselor, and that’s okay. They can listen and help provide you with a toolbox of skills to better manage your stress. If you feel you want to hurt yourself or someone else, call 911 immediately.


If you’re looking for ways to reduce your stress, here are some to try.


Remember that “no” is a complete sentence. As graduate students, there are so many options available to us to get involved in on campus or in various ways within our discipline – and while it's nice to be involved, it’s also good to remember that we cannot do it all. (And should not do it all). Saying no to things is completely okay, and even necessary, in order not to become overwhelmed. Prioritize what you want to do and go from there.


Maintain social support. Not just in difficult times, but always. Especially during this pandemic, social support for graduate students is key – friends, classmates, even other students in your department. Whether you are on campus or studying remotely, finding your people is important. Other people can provide emotional support, practical advice on problems or issues, and can commiserate with you during the rough times. If you’re on campus, there may be a student support group; if you’re remote, there may be virtual support groups or social media groups that can provide support.


Get organized. Really, it’s true. Being organized and cutting down on clutter has a calming effect. Clutter and disorganization can be overwhelming and cause anxiety. Find an organization system that works for you, and get a planner. Map out what you have to do for school and work, as well as any personal obligations, and break large tasks into smaller goals. This will help make things feel more manageable and reduce stress.   


Try to cultivate healthier habits. Believe us: we get it. As a grad student, you may not have a lot of time to exercise regularly or get 8-9 hours of sleep every night. But there are small ways to work healthy habits into your life – whether it’s a 25-minute walk around your neighborhood several times a week, cutting back on caffeine and/or alcohol, quitting smoking, getting more sleep, or eating healthier. All of these can relieve stress and improve your health, which can make a difference. Take an honest look at your habits, pick one to work on, and go from there. Small changes can add up to big differences. If you need help with quitting smoking or changing your eating habits, talk with your doctor or go to the student health center.


Keep your eye on the prize. Set some long-term goals and remember that you’re working toward them. Celebrate each milestone along the way.


Remember to breathe. Not just in the metaphorical sense of not being overloaded, but also in the literal sense. When we get anxious, our breathing becomes shallower our heart rate speeds up, and we feel even more anxious. Be mindful of your breath and remember to take deep belly breaths throughout the day. Check out this page on mindful breathing.


Ask for help. Whether that means talking with your advisor about a class that’s giving you trouble, seeking a tutor, leaning on your support network, or seeing a counselor, do what you need to do in order to reduce stress and be okay. Dissertation Editor can help with this as well. If you’re stressed about comments on your research or stressed about data analysis, we can help! We cannot do your work for you, but we can help save you time, clarify any questions or misunderstandings, and help you develop a plan that works for you to reach your goals.


Here at Dissertation Editor, we’ve been where you are and we know how stressful graduate school can be – especially while working or raising a family. Our services are designed to assist you throughout the dissertation or thesis process, as well as professionally. Contact us today to learn more about what we offer, and how we can help you reduce your stress and reach your goals.

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