Grad School Advice: 6 Tips for Avoiding Burnout
Find a Support Network
It could be family, it could be friends, it could be fellow students who know what you’re going through too well, but having support in grad school is vital to your success. You can’t spend 24 hours a day reading, studying, and doing homework, and your support network should not only be people who you can come to with your stress and anxieties about school, but people who you enjoy spending time with and who recharge you for the work you have ahead of you.
Work Smarter, Not Harder
This maxim gets thrown around a lot, but it is especially vital as a grad student to utilize the work you’re doing professionally as wisely as you can to achieve your academic goals. Perhaps you have an open topic for a paper you have to write and you are doing research at work on something that would fit – use your professional development for school requirements, or the other way around. Don’t double your work when overlap is possible!
It’s often tempting to do a summer semester, or to work towards professional goals during your breaks, but sometimes you have to take time for yourself, too. An article in Psychology Today suggest that breaks “refresh your brain and help you see a situation in a new way.” While we might want to get grad school done as soon as we can or work constantly to our goals, sometimes it’s great to get to the beach or even just watch a few movies over breaks.
Eat Healthy and Exercise
Many people think avoiding burn out just has to do with the brain and how much work we do, but taking care of the body is an important part of avoiding burnout, too. Make sure not to fall into the temptation of eating out all the time and not getting enough sleep. If you're able to, bring your running shoes and go for a walk on your breaks, or walk to the bus instead of driving. Keep your body in good working order, and you’ll do great things for your stress levels.
You Can’t Say Yes to Everything
Part of being a busy professional is being able to draw boundaries when necessary. No one has time for every project that comes by, and it’s best to learn which serve you and which do not, and to say “no” to the ones that do not.
Making everything perfect in nearly impossible in graduate school. While you should obviously do as much of your reading and homework as you can, no one can stay on top of every last assignment and deadline. Know that perfectionism isn’t the only way to do things, and sometimes focusing on what we’ve accomplished instead of the details of every last thing can help us avoid burning out, too.
- Alex DiFrancesco
Master of Fine Arts Creative Writing, Current student