Okay, real talk. Grad school is harder than I thought it would be. I knew that it would be stressful and that I’d want to quit at times, but I didn’t expect that in the first few weeks.
The imposter syndrome is REAL. I didn’t think I’d feel QUITE so young, immature, and inadequate heading into grad school, but there are days when I feel like I definitely don’t belong. I’m not sure if it helps or hurts that I think academics feel like that forever. Of course, some days (like today), I am 100% jazzed about school and work and I can’t stop smiling. I’m pretty sure most of that has to do with taking a three hour nap and heading to the mall with my partner, though.
The first month was ROUGH, and I know that there will be even rougher spots ahead, but I made it through, and I have a better idea of what coping mechanisms I need for the rest of my degree.
- A combination of sleep and coffee, offset with herbal tea and scented candles. Some nights you will get three hours of sleep. Some you will get 14. You must be prepared for being both too tired AND too wired.
- Let your guilty pleasures run wild. After a week of non-stop academia, sometimes the best cure is cheap beer and adult cartoons. Don’t take life or yourself too seriously, and don’t feel like you have to be in ‘conference mode’ all the time.
- Bathing is a lost art. Take a REAL BATH once or twice a week. Epson salts, bath bombs, bath oils, and candles. Soothe your muscles and grab a glass of wine. You can even double-duty self care by putting netflix on or grabbing a book.
- Go dancing! Don’t isolate yourself. Stress, anxiety, and depression are very isolating, but don’t shut yourself away. Go out with friends, call your mom, don’t give up on dating and if you’re in a relationship, don’t stop going on dates. Make use of your department’s common areas. Know that you aren’t alone, ever.
- Meal prep. Cook and portion your food ahead of time so that you aren’t cooking every day and you can grab lunch before heading out, saving on money, stress, and nutrition. I cook big crock pot batch meals once a week or so and freeze half, while using the rest for meals during the week. We stock up on healthy snacks, indulgences, and we pre-slice our veggies at our house. Making lunch takes about 2 minutes the night before after all of the prep!
- Treat yo’ self! Whether its a venti PSL with extra whipped cream, or the lulu pants you’ve wanted for months, reward yourself for not giving up. Know that you are worth the extra indulgences you have room in your budget for.
- Be gentle to yourself. Didn’t work out this week? That’s okay. Didn’t eat healthy? It happens. Balance isn’t doing everything all the time, it’s about doing what you can in the time you have and loving yourself even when your to-do list doesn’t get finished.
- Stay on top of household chores, finances, and your health. Leave the stress for grant and funding applications and conference proposals.
My current fave self-care products, in case you need some inspo:
Fuzzy Socks from the Dollar store
Oh… and ANYTHING from Winners or Homesense!