Navigate Holiday Stress

BY PAUL DELGADO, GRADUATE PROGRAM ASSISTANT
Sheila Brown has released this “Happy Holidays Christmas Ornament 3” image under Public Domain license.

Congrats! You made it through the first two terms and now it’s time to celebrate. It is that wonderful time of the year where you may get to spend time at home with loved ones, eat delicious food, and hang out with old friends. It is also that time of the year when people around ask, “How is your research going?” and “What’s next after you graduate” or “Why don’t you visit more often?” And so it begins… Trust me, you are not the only one feeling overwhelmed with all these questions. Although most of the time we appreciate family members and friends caring about our progress, there are times when we appreciate having a physical and mental break from school. Some of us are still working on an answer to, “What is next after you graduate?” It’s ok not to have all the answers. We may want to make our friends and family proud, but it’s important to take care of our mental well-being. Here are some recommendations on how to navigate and handle holiday stress:

1. If you are experiencing grad school guilt: It is okay to take time away from work. We understand some things need to be done such as working on your thesis, applying for fellowships/grants, working on a publication. Yet, taking a break is okay. Whether it is a few hours, days, or even more than a week. You deserve it. You have worked non-stop for two entire terms. Enjoy your time off. 

2. If you are experiencing stress from overwhelming questions: Maybe some of your loved ones do not understand your research and/or the process of graduate school. However, you do know that they care about you and want to know how you are doing. While it can be difficult to not find those questions annoying or hard to answer, try to remain calm. Most of the time they are trying their best to connect with you and understand your life as a graduate student. Be patient and don’t take your stress on those you love the most. 

3. If you are experiencing stress from doing “too much”: Set time aside for yourself. Yes, we understand this is the time your family and friends want to do everything with you and include you in all the plans. However, it is okay to say “no” to an invitation. The holidays are a great opportunity to enjoy quality time with others but also time with yourself. Please remember to relax, recharge, refocus. 

Try to enjoy your holiday and destress. There will always be work that needs to be done and questions that need to be answered. Enjoy your time off, don’t feel guilty, and take care of your wellbeing. For additional suggestions, check out JHSAP’s 10 tips for holiday stress management.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS SCHOLARS!

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