I have been told that I need to take time to relax once a day, at least... How?
|I have been told that I need to relax at least once a day. Along with that goes exercise at least once a day. I have a question for the folks who are telling me that. HOW? It is good advice, and I wish I could take it, but I just do not have the time in my day (or night) to do either. I am in graduate school with a class load that requires reading literally hundreds of pages every weekend, and in between classes. Advanced Social Psychology is a handful with its reading and summarizing. Child Psychopathology requires analysis along with the reading for understanding. Molecular Neuropharmacology is a subject all its own and, though I love it, it is incredibly intense and had labs to go along with it. Then there is my thesis. Say no more, right? These various classes require even more of my time and energy wrapped into things like research papers and 45-minute lecture presentations. Research and formatting go into the preparation of these papers, which of course, must go "by the book" (style manual). That takes time, too.
I would love to relax and exercise. I could go swimming or play racquetball. I could draw silly imaginary animals. I could play my guitar. I could work on my Spanish or read my Bible. I could go for a walk. I could sleep! Well, I do not know if I could sleep, but it is a nice thought. About the farthest I get toward relaxing is listening to my iPod while doing bibliographies for papers. The professors assure me that this is a valuable learning process and that it changes people. I definitely believe that! It does change people. For better or for worse.
I guess if you consider hanging out at another grad student's house and working on nerve simulations, power point presentations, and statistics together relaxing, I do a lot of that. I know that sounds really sarcastic, but it is not meant to come off that way at all. That is actually kind of fun at times, and is truly less stressful than the hard-core reading homework and write-ups that we have to do. We discuss some of the articles we have to read together, too, and that gets some interesting discussions going, especially when there is alcohol involved on a Thursday afternoon!
The friends you make in grad school are unlike any you have had before. There are still the people in class that you cannot stand - the rude ones, the odd ones, the know-it-alls, and the nerds. The difference is that you still want your group, the group you began with, to graduate together. All of you. That is the strangest feeling I have ever had concerning school groups. I guess it might be because you learn so much about yourself and each other and you are all real people to each other instead of "that guy" or "this one girl".
Learning about yourself. That is a big one. If you want to find out how dedicated you are to your area, how far you can push yourself, how hard you can work on a given project, how competitive you are, and how much of a perfectionist you are, go to grad school. You will find out all of that and more! You can even discover how arrogant and wrong you are. You go to grad school thinking you know something because you have this wonderful Bachelor's degree in something. Then you walk off the elevator and step into the world of the graduate program. And you find out very quickly that you have gaping holes in your education, the grad professors expect that you know the information and read the material on your own without prodding, and the added expectation of collaboration as a unit between classmates is a whopper of a surprise in that you are expected to work most of the issues amongst yourselves. That is why you end up getting to know everyone so well. Discussion is a big deal, too. You no longer have your nose just stuck in a book. You are expected to participate, to have knowledge of the subject, to have an opinion, and to give it. Attendance polices may or may not be in place, but participation is huge. No one is going to make you do it, either. You have to take the initiative and speak up. If you do not understand something, you had sure better speak up, because that is going to snowball remarkably quickly into an irreconcilable situation for your knowledge base and your position as a grad student. And you are going to cry. Crying is part of the grad program. Frustration is part of the grad program - you may get so angry you cannot see straight. It may be with projects, classmates, professors, or programs, but it will happen. Elation and relief are part of it, too. When a lecture presentation goes well or you get a paper turned in or you have a break, the sigh of relief can be heard around the world. You are not going to sleep as much. I sleep 2-3 hours a night. On my days off, I get maybe 4-5 hours of sleep with a nap, if I do not have to be anywhere doing anything. Grad school consumes your life. You have to somehow cope with that. I guess that is where the relaxation and exercise is supposed to come in. Hm. Have to work on that...