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Dealing with Depression & the Stress of Grad School: You're Not Alone!

UL Grad School -- 08/12/2016

Are you feeling the stress of grad school? Do you feel like that stress is causing depression? Don't worry—you're not alone. According to a 2015 study conducted by the University of California Berkeley, 47% of grad students are either depressed or stressed beyond their limit. In this post, we’ll talk about how to deal with and overcome these very real effects of grad school.

Stress happens.

The truth is you’ve probably been in a constant state of stress since your grad school acceptance letter landed in your mailbox. That’s okay, though.

Stress comes with the grad school territory, but that constant load of stress can lead to feelings of depression and anxiety. While good stress can be motivating, knowing when you’ve crossed the line into anxiety, or bad stress, is key to your success and health during grad school.

Let’s face it: you do have a lot on your plate. The last time you were in a classroom or lab you were doing the learning, but now it’s your responsibility to be researching and finding new information, techniques, and breakthroughs in your field. You also may have undergrad students relying on you to help expand their knowledge. And then, of course, you probably also have numerous other responsibilities demanding your attention, like family or work.

Dealing With It.

Here are a few simple things you can do to manage and minimize your stress.

Make a To-Do List.
First, make a to-do list. This list can contain as little or as much as you feel is needed. For some, seeing a list of responsibilities and tasks laid out may increase anxiety and stress, but making a list will help you visualize what you have on your plate at the time and keep track of responsibilities. This list should contain things like day-to-day tasks, both large and small milestones in projects, and goals and aspirations you set for yourself. You may even have a separate list for each of those categories to help break it up and keep things simplified.

Organize and Prioritize.
After you have your to-do list built out, try prioritizing and organizing the items on your list, creating a hierarchy or order in which they need to be accomplished. Sometimes categorizing them by items due immediately, today, this week, or continually can help. This hierarchy will help you plan out how you’re going to tackle it all.

Stick To It.
Life happens. It’s easy to write something down and forget about it as other things come up. When new tasks are introduced, remember to include them on your to-do list as you try to stick to your system.

Take a Break.
Don’t be afraid to take a break every once in awhile. It’s easy to get so wrapped up in work that you forget to make time for yourself. Not everyone has the time to take a long weekend away, so a break can be something as simple as taking a walk outside for 30 minutes before sitting down to work on your thesis.

Find some ways to recognize and deal with stress and depression.

If you need someone to talk to someone or are struggling with some of these common issues, feel free to reach out to our Counseling and Testing Center.