UW Graduate School

October 1, 2015

Thriving in the Fall

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As you delve into your first week of studies, we encourage you to incorporate wellness strategies that help you feel centered and connected to yourself and others. This is especially important during moments when you feel caught up in the frenzied demands of the quarter. We know that your success as graduate students is not only about developing intellectual and professional knowledge and skills, but also about cultivating your emotional resilience.

Try out these tips below and let us know how well they worked for you or share your favorite strategies with us at Core Programs:

Self-compassion. Let’s be real, attending graduate school is going to be hectic at times. You’re juggling everything from living in a new city (and in some cases a completely new culture) to getting acclimated to the rigor of your graduate program to taking care of loved ones. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, this is perfectly normal. Take a few moments to acknowledge your feelings, and recognize that many of your peers experience similar feelings too. So be kind and gentle with yourself. There’s a whole lot to learn, but the beautiful thing is, you can give yourself permission to not figure it all out right away.

Managing feedback. One of the most difficult things to hear in graduate school is critical feedback (whether constructive or unproductive) on your seminar paper, lab work, thesis or dissertation. It can sometimes feel like your intelligence is being scrutinized on a deeply personal level, even when the comments you receive are helpful to your intellectual and professional growth. In these moments, be intentional about listening to the feedback without self-judgement, take a few notes, and revisit the suggestions at a later time. Then make a conscious effort to take a break from your work. Catch up with a friend over the phone. Go for a 10-min walk. Listen to your favorite music. Grab dinner with some friends. Do all four! The goal is to avoid ruminating on criticism by engaging in activities that nurture you and connect you with your support system. You’ll find when you revisit the feedback, you’ll have a fresh perspective.

Sense of purpose. Sometimes when you’re in the thick of it all, it can be easy to focus solely on the factors that make graduate student life stressful. We encourage you to get an early start on curbing this by writing out a short list or an outline of all the positive reasons you’re in grad school (keep your grad school application Statement of Purpose nearby even)—in order to ground yourself. Are you passionate about a particular research topic and want to make scholarly contributions to your field(s)? Do you want to excel in a profession that will be rewarding to you and your family? Interested in making unique and innovative contributions to your community or society?  Your reasons for being in grad school may change over time, but the most important things to center are your values, priorities and goals for earning that graduate degree rather than getting lost in the demands of it all.

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