Here is a shocker for you: life as a graduate student is hard work and quality advice to graduate students is hard to find. Graduate school takes a lot of time, money, effort, and endurance. Earning a PhD has been hard since its creation, and though some technological advancements have made some aspects of graduate school easier (i.e., a little thing called the Internet), earning a PhD will still be one of the most difficult accomplishments of your life.
Above all of your responsibilities as a graduate student (e.g., doing coursework, reading, teaching, writing papers, being on a research team, writing a dissertation or thesis, etc.), the most important responsibility you have is to take care of yourself. Yes, there will likely be some nights when you do not get much (if any) sleep, but, overall, you need to be sure that you are taking care of yourself. In the long run, taking care of yourself is some of the best advice to graduate students that we can give, as it will not only help you maintain your sanity and well-being throughout graduate school, but taking care of yourself will also make getting through graduate school easier.
Imagine that you are on an airplane and that all of a sudden, the cabin depressurizes and yellow air bags pop down from the console above you. Across the airplane, there is wide spread panic, and the child in the seat next to you begins to cry and reach for an air mask. What do you do? You put your mask on first. In many ways, graduate school can feel like a disastrous situation, but the moral of this story is that if you don’t take care of yourself, there is no way that you can take care of others or your responsibilities.
Here is some advice to graduate students that can ensure that you are properly taking care of yourself during graduate school:
• Maintain a healthy diet but still allow yourself dessert in moderation.
• Exercise regularly.
• Get enough sleep.
• Engage in hobbies or activities that you enjoy.
• Spend time each day NOT working.
• Have “me” time.
• Spend adequate time relaxing with friends and family.