Lately, I haven’t even attempted to make a list of New Year’s resolutions. I’ve had too many years of making grand commitments on January 1st, and by April I can’t even remember what I was supposed to do. I find starting a New Year’s resolution in March to be much more effective. Don’t ask me why. Something about March makes me want to change my life…
But for the sake of grad school (and this blog), this year I will try again! If I learned anything from my first semester, it’s that graduate school can take over your life. It’s easy to let hobbies, self-care, and even old friends fall by the wayside when you’re diving head first into academia. And if you’re one of the many graduate students who also has a job or a child (or both!), then there’s really not much time for anything else.
I’m making these resolutions with us in mind. It’s easy to let the world pass us by while trying to simultaneously get a degree and keep our lives together. Yet we have to remember (and honestly, I’m just talking to myself here) to dedicate time to activities that make us happy, relax us, and overall keep us sane. Who has time for that mid-semester mental breakdown anyway?! Here are my resolutions that (hopefully) will help prevent that:
- Spend at least 1 hour every day away from the screens
What a sad goal to start with. But committing at least one consecutive hour away from the screens every day is necessary for grad students (especially for those of us in Zoom university). Although we have to stare at our computers for most of the day, we don’t have to spend every study break watching Netflix, Youtube, or scrolling through social media. It’s fun and oh so mind-numbing, but our eyes need a break. I plan to spend this hour relaxing, listening to music, cooking, spending time with my partner, or doing one of the following resolutions!
- Call a friend, family member, or therapist every week
Now I’m not saying speak to the same person every week (unless you see your therapist every week… like me), but talking with someone who’s world does not revolve around endless assignments will help pull you out of whatever funk or anxiety grad school may have put you in. Plus your mother/father/old best friend from high school or college wants to hear from you. Trust me. (Note: this can also be checked off by speaking to a neighbor or coworker—about something other than work—for an extended period of time.)
- Go outside every day. Even if it’s freezing. Even if it’s just for 3 minutes. Do it!
That fresh air is necessary! Taking ten deep breaths in fresh air can relieve stress that you didn’t even know you were holding onto. Spending time outside last semester brought me pure joy. But I didn’t do it as often as I could have. This semester, I have a feeling I’m going to need that joy.
- Do something that makes me smile or laugh every day.
Sometimes we have to consciously bring joy into our lives. It’s easy forget about it with the responsibilities of work and school. This year I want joy to be a priority in my life. For me, most of the previous resolutions would bring my joy every day. For you it may be different and that’s okay! But trust, a good laugh a day keeps the anxiety monster away.
I hope these resolutions can help you too! Whether you’re a first-year, second-year, or newly admitted student, I think all of us could benefit from starting these habits. Happy New Year!