Protect Yourself from Stress in Graduate School

Pursuing an advanced degree in an intensive program of study can be a very enriching and intense experience, but it can also be a lot of pressure. To stay on course in your program, you’ll need to know how to cope with stress.

Pursuing an advanced degree in an intensive program of study can be a very enriching and intense experience, but it can also be a lot of pressure. To stay on course in your program, you’ll need to know how to cope with stress.

Every student is different, so it’s important to know what causes you to feel stressed and to have some ideas of how to cope. As we know, stress shows up in a myriad of ways; physically, emotionally, cognitively and behaviorally. Some of the symptoms of being stressed might be feeling overwhelmed, not sleeping, changes in your eating habits, not being able to concentrate, being irritable, feeling burned out, or getting sick more frequently than usual.

Here are a few tips to help you combat stress:

#1: Develop a Time Management Plan

If you have too many top priorities, you can’t make smart choices. Let go of the less necessary tasks; you can always go back at a later time to attend to them. Stick to the priorities that you decide are the most important.

#2: Set Boundaries

There will always be more you could do, so learn how to say “no” when you feel it is appropriate. This will help you stay more in control of your situation and you’ll be able to remain on top of those projects you do commit yourself to.

#3: Develop and stick to a daily exercise routine

Develop a method of getting exercise daily, such as practicing yoga, going to the gym, running, getting out in nature, or swimming.

#4: Keep a positive attitude

Sometimes when you are deeply involved in a program, you will lose sight of how well you are actually doing and what strengths you bring to achieving your academic goals. Give yourself credit for what you have already accomplished. So, keep a positive outlook and occasionally take a break to clear your head, keep a gratitude journal, meditate, or maybe listen to some music.

#5: Set Realistic Expectations for Yourself

Even though there will always be more tasks and projects that you want to take on, recognize that no one can do it all. So remember to set reasonable expectations for yourself and be realistic about how long it might take to complete your tasks satisfactorily.

#6: Remind Yourself of Your Longer-range Goals

When you are lost in the more immediate steps that you need to take, try to step back and remind yourself of your longer-range goal and how this “piece of the puzzle” will fit into reaching your ultimate target.

#7: Use Your Support System

Remember, you are not in this alone! Check in with your classmates and professors when you are unsure of assignments or feel stuck. Set aside some time to connect with friends and family to keep your perspective when things do become overwhelming.

#8: Ask for Help

BU has many resources that will help you to achieve your goals. Here are some that you may want to take advantage of:

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