It’s all a balancing act.

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Has anyone ever told you that graduate school is crazy? If not, let me be the first, because do I have a reality check for you. I’m sorry, but there’s really no other way to accurately describe graduate school.

There’s always a never-ending pile of books and articles you have to read, and you may continuously feel like you are behind. All your professors may assign assignments with due dates all on one day, and just when you think you have a grip on your practicum/internship, something will happen to make you think otherwise.

Graduate school is a balancing act. As you are juggling a million things, life may start tossing its own bowling pins at you. I do not know what it is about students, but I firmly believe that no one gets through graduate school without life throwing you a few curveballs. Graduate students are a magnet, attractive to any and every possible situation.

I just got hit with more than a couple unforeseen surprises. The past few months have been intense, to say the least. When one thing ended, another started, and I was not sure if there was an end in sight. Gradually, I have been able to put out a few fires, while managing to get a hold on some of my bowling pins. There are still a few extra being thrown at me, but I found a rhythm.

Finding a method to balancing it all is ultimately what gets you through graduate school. You need to figure out the best way for you to juggle, and it is important to realize that what works for someone does not necessarily work for you.

The first step to discovering your own system is breathing. When things get hectic, people forget to take a deep, long breath. Taking a moment out of your day to just breathe can be altering; it can relax your body and mind and help un-fog all the craziness around you. Oftentimes, when you find yourself in situation where you’re juggling a million things, you may be running on adrenaline; breathing will reset your body, so you do not hit empty.

Once you feel calm again, write a list. Prioritize what needs to be done and work on crossing off items, one thing at a time. You can work on the tiny things first, or you can complete the time-consuming tasks. Either way, I can promise that you will feel amazing when you begin to see lines across your list, signifying that you are almost done with it all.

Set a schedule. You may already have a routine set, but by scheduling what needs to be done, you are more motivated and determined, thus kicking procrastination to the curb. The most important thing you need to make time for is yourself. The same way you took a few moments to breathe, take some time for self-care. Relax. Do some yoga. Watch Sherlock or House of Cards. Whatever you do to unwind, make sure you do it every day. If you have a chance, do it at night, before you go to sleep, so you can go to bed easily, without your worries sitting over your shoulders.

Don’t forget to reward yourself also. When you cross off a certain amount of items, or get through the most daunting tasks, take a moment to recognize what you have just accomplish. Taking pleasure in the simple things really does change your mindset and your approach.  You are also more likely and more motivated to get through the rest of the list when you have something exciting waiting for you. A celebration truly does serve as the light at the end of the tunnel.

These few, simple steps have really helped me get a grasp on life. Although graduate school is just as crazy (if not more than last semester), I feel ready and eager to barge on through the many obstacles. I keep reminding myself that at the end of this semester, I will be a ½ of a therapist, and that is pretty darn amazing.

Keep going, you can do it :) 

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