Maintaining a Healthy Relationship with Yourself

Does support for graduate students exist?

Successful life as a graduate student depends on your ability to maintain balance between the various elements of your life, and often necessitates seeking out some support. If you are unable to maintain balance in your life as a graduate student, then you may face some negative consequences that could seriously hinder your academic success. These consequences may include (but are not limited to) academic burnout or fatigue, depression or other mental health issues, and deterioration of important personal relationships with family members and friends. Of all the elements that factor into your life as a graduate student, you are the only factor that only you can control. If you are able to maintain a healthy relationship with yourself while you are in graduate school, then you will be more able to handle stressors from outside sources (e.g., professors, peers, etc.). The following information and support for graduate students are to help you improve your relationship with yourself while you are in graduate school:

Allow yourself to accept outside help.

There are plenty of resources and support for graduate students for academic, personal, and financial help during grad school. Unfortunately, some graduate students will not accept the help that these resources offer because they may feel that accepting help is beneath them, offends their sense of pride in their own accomplishments, or compromises their self-images as independent individuals. This is simply not the case. Knowing when we need help and being secure enough in ourselves to ask for help is the first step to academic maturity and success and to maintaining healthy relationships with ourselves.

Slow your pace (if possible).

It is unhealthy to work 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If possible, you should learn to slow your pace, setting aside some time each day in which you will not work (this does not include the time that you need to eat, sleep, bathe, etc.). We understand that as a graduate student, you have important deadlines that you must meet to avoid serious complications and consequences. However, you should avoid working continuously for days and weeks on end without any breaks until you absolutely crash in exhaustion. Continuously working for days and weeks on end is not only unhealthy for your relationship with yourself but is also unproductive as far as the quality of work you are able to generate. Forcing yourself to slow your pace and to take some time off regularly is critical.

Do something unrelated to your academic work.

Graduate students often tend to eat, sleep, breathe, drink, and live for their graduate program, so much so that they no longer have any thoughts that are unrelated to their identities and work as graduate students. When this happens, graduate students easily lose perspective in their lives, which may negatively affect their relationships with themselves and with those who are closest to them. Try doing something that is totally unrelated to your academic work: volunteer somewhere or do something to help others, learn something new outside your discipline, read a book for pleasure. As difficult as it may seem, you should try to do something to take your mind off school every once in a while.

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