5 Ways for Grad Students to Practice Self-Care

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The school year has begun and academic life seem pretty calm – for now! But midterms and finals will surely bring a torrent of stressful situations. Not to mention, being a graduate student can be difficult in between exams as well. We must balance research and classes with jobs, family responsibilities, and even financial insecurity from time to time (or always. Is it just me?) .

But never fear! These 5 self-care tips, inspired by recommendations from the American Psychological Association, will have you prepared to tackle almost any challenge this academic year.

1. Exercise Your Body. 

Heart-pumping exercise is a proven stress-buster. But one thing is for sure: running to class because you are five minutes late is not enough. Sustained activity for at least thirty minutes a day is recommended. If you aren’t the athletic type, try something fun like going for a hike or joining a zumba class.

2. Be mindful.

While getting your body moving is a good thing, sometimes your mind just needs to be still. Mindfulness has been scientifically proven to reduce stress, improve attention, and promote a general sense of well-being. Interested in learning more? Check out an on-campus mindfulness event like the ones featured below.

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3. Find mentors.

Find that person who completed her Ph.D. in three years while working full-time with two kids. Get all of the tips you can get and never let go! Even if you don’t have a superhero faculty member or colleague, there are likely individuals in your department who have been on a journey similar to yours. Seek them out for advice. They will probably be very flattered that you even asked.

4. Rely on your friends.

If you are a graduate student, it is likely that a good chunk of your friends are also graduate students. Talk out your struggles together. It doesn’t matter how you do it: during a study session, over coffee, or in a What’sApp message. Make sure to keep in touch and check-in over the course of the semester.

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5. Seek help if you need it.

If you are feeling overwhelmed, reach out for help. Student Counseling Services are available at the USC Engemenn Student Health Center. They offer a stress relief clinic as well as individual therapy, crisis support, and psychiatric therapy. If you are in need of immediate emotional support, call (213)740-7711 to speak with a crisis therapist.