As the spring quarter begins, we know that many of you will be experiencing anxiety over fulfilling requirements for your very first —or final — year in your grad program, planning your career trajectory beyond the UW, or managing your time to balance work, family, and graduate school. As the weeks go by, the work will seem to just pile up. This is real.
The good thing is, you can approach being a graduate student from a totally different perspective — by being intentional and mindful. We invite you to take a deep breath (really, a full breath in and out), create some space for yourself to slow down, and check out some possible strategies for being mindful that you can consider incorporating into your schedule.
Resist busyness. There’s an unspoken culture in graduate school that perpetuates the idea that over-productivity is a good thing: that performing and talking about how busy we are is key to being successful in a graduate program. Stanford Career Coach Dr. Chris Golde offers a different perspective and states, “Graduate students report more than can be done.” She recommends slowing down “to make peace with [our] limitations,” and says “there will always be those around you — students and faculty — who accomplish far more than you do. Hold yourself to a standard of what is realistic for you.”
Set achievable goals. It can be tempting during this time of the year to be overly ambitious about your goals, and setting an unrealistic standard for yourself can actually lead to you not achieving what’s most important to you — whether you are in career planning mode, completing your capstone, thesis or dissertation, or working on or off campus. Again, we invite you to slow down. We know that when we were in graduate school, goal setting wasn’t something that we suddenly knew how to do. Take some time to map out and visualize your goals. And finally, we encourage you to reward yourself for each task you complete towards your end goals.
Be mindful. Mindfulness can simply be defined as taking time to observe your thoughts, feelings, and bodily sensations from moment to moment, without judgment. Why would this be beneficial to practice while you are in graduate school? Research has shown that over time, mindfulness can help us be more compassionate to ourselves and people in our communities, help us be less reactive and more calm in the face of conflict, and help us increase our focus to what truly matters in our lives.
We hope these strategies are helpful to you as you as you navigate the new quarter!
Your mental health and well-being matter to us,
Core Programs Team