How to Take Care of Your Health While in Grad School

A man is stretching in bed after a good night's sleep.

Aug 09, 2018

When it comes to grad school, there's one thing most students will agree with: It's hard work. In order to successfully earn a master's degree, you have to stay on top of your work, turn it in on time, and be dedicated to your program. But if your health isn't a priority, you might end up being tired, stressed, and overwhelmed.

In order to ensure you'll go from master's candidate to graduate, it's important to be physically healthy as well as mentally healthy. Whether you're almost done with your master's degree, you're a couple classes in, or you're still considering grad school in general, we've compiled a guide on how to stay healthy and mentally fit.

Here are 8 ways to stay physically and mentally healthy during grad school:

Make sure you're getting enough sleep.

Not sleeping? Your schoolwork is probably going to suffer. If you have a lot of homework and anticipate sleepless nights in order to get it done, try to spread it out throughout the week. Do an hour of homework at the end of the day, do some more the next day, and finish it over the weekend. Since grad school homework is typically more difficult than undergrad, sleep is important if you want to be able to write a quality master's-level paper.

Don't do it alone.

A huge misconception when it comes to grad school is that you're doing it alone. Sure, you might be the one reading the textbooks, writing papers, and earning the grades, but you're certainly not alone. Wherever you're at in your program, reach out to family and friends for support. If you keep your anxiety and stress in, it'll keep building up. But having a healthy outlet will help you stay focused and stay on track. Another way to stay connected with others is by interacting with other grad students in your classes. At CCU, there's a community of learners just like you in each class.

Eat food that will give you natural energy.

If you typically get stressed when writing papers and studying, make sure you're nurturing yourself with healthy proteins, vegetables, and fruit. If you grab junk and fried foods, your energy level will go down, and your body probably won't feel its best. Poor food choices can also affect your mental ability to study and think. Even if you don't have a lot of extra time, look for easy, quick, and healthy recipes to make instead of eating something unhealthy.

Check in with your mental health often.

Are you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, or anxious about grad school? You're not alone. Grad school is a big deal, and you're probably working or taking care of a family on top of all the homework. But rather than letting depression and anxiety get to you, it's time for some positive self-care. When you're sitting down to do homework, drink a warm cup of tea. Take a bath after a long day. Go for a run. Or seek some professional help if you need someone to talk to. It's normal to have these kind of feels when you're working hard, so make sure you're paying attention to those thoughts and feelings. If you're interested in additional mental health resources, discuss it with your student adviser, and they might be able to connect you to some help and support.

Work out your frustrations!

Another great way to battle stress and anxiety is to get your body moving. The natural endorphins you get from working out can help relieve some of that pressure, plus, they can put you in a better mood. Even if you hate the idea of working out, there are plenty of ways to get moving other than going into a gym. Go for a beginner's hike in the mountains. Take a candlelight yoga class during the week. Go for a walk in your neighborhood when you need a break. Or go on a relaxing vacation to get out of the house.

Use breaks and holidays to rest.

During the school year, there is usually time off for holidays and spring break. You might even have a few days or weeks off before starting a new course. Whenever you get a break, no matter how long it is, make sure you're using that time to rest and refresh. You might be tempted to use that time to get ahead in class, but you might need a break instead. Consider at least going for a day or weekend trip to get outside.

Plan ahead in order to stay on track.

One of the most stress-inducing things you can do during a master's program is procrastinate. During every class, make sure you write down or print out key due dates, and also plan ahead for those final exams and big papers. If you do get behind, make that time up right away, or you'll keep getting backlogged. You'll end up getting super overwhelmed, and your grades might suffer.

Don't stress about the little things.

In grad school, it's always a good thing to set goals and meet them. But if you put too much pressure on yourself, this could set you up to fail. It's important to turn your work in on time, but if something happens beyond your control, don't freak out. Email your instructor to let them know what's going on. Check out your course's late policy, and try to only be one day late at the most. You might still receive a penalty, but at least you're open, honest, and diligent about eventually turning it in.

Working your way through a master's program? Here are more grad school tips.

If you're not yet enrolled in a program, check out Colorado Christian University's online master's degree programs.

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