Relax with a Good Book

By Jessica Harrington, Director

Image by Evgeni Tcherkasski from Pixabay

Some books leave us free and some books make us free.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

Reading has been proven to help reduce stress.  During the academic year, students may forgo their love of reading due to hectic schedules. Winter break is a great opportunity to read something other than textbooks and articles. For ideas, visit NPR’s Book Concierge and Good Reads Best Books of 2019.

In addition, here are some of my favorite books: 

  • Self Help: I Thought It Was Just Me (but it isn’t): Making the Journey from “What Will People Think?” to “I Am Enough” (Brene Brown)
  • Motivational: Enjoy Every Sandwhich: Living Each Day as If It Were Your Last ( Lee Lipsenthal)
  • Memoir: Born Bright: A Young Girl’s Journey from Nothing to Something in America (C. Nicole Mason)
  • Suspense/Sci-Fi: Dark Matter (Blake Crouch)
  • Creativity Workbook: Hand Lettering for Relaxation: An Inspirational Workbook for Creating Beautiful Lettered Art (Amy Latta)

Whether you choose to relax through reading or some other means, we encourage you to make self-care a priority! We look forward to connecting with you in third term. 

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!

Cultivating Gratitude

By: Shekeitha L. Jeffries, Assistant Director of Student Life

Gratitude is having a deep appreciation for the people and things in our lives. It allows us to intentionally focus on the positive aspects of our lives, even in the midst of challenging circumstances.  When was the last time you paused to celebrate your recent accomplishments? When was the last time you reflected upon the relationships you have with your family, friends and colleagues?  When was the last time you stepped away from your computer and cell phone to appreciate nature’s beauty?

As a student at JHSPH, you may have a busy schedule with a demanding class load, infused with other pertinent school and personal matters such as a teaching assistant position, an internship, and/or family commitments. However, it is important to find time to express gratitude, by appreciating the people and things in your life. Research suggests that those who experience gratitude, encounter more happiness and love. Additionally, those who practice gratitude, can reduce their lifetime risk for depression, anxiety, and substance abuse. 

To help cultivate an environment filled with gratitude, consider these three tips:

  • Create a gratitude journal. Grab a notebook or download the Penzu app and begin keeping a log of things you are grateful for each day.
  • Listen to a podcast. Download the JHU calm app for free and check out Tamara Levitt’s Masterclass on Gratitude.
  • Mediate. Take 10-15 minutes before you start your day to mediate. Mindfulness mediation helps you to focus on the present as well as gratefulness.

For additional tips to help you on your gratitude journey, click here.  

Stay Calm Under Pressure

By Jessica Harrington, Director of Student Life

To experience peace does not mean that your life is always blissful. It means that you are capable of tapping into a blissful state of mind amidst the normal chaos of a hectic life.  

Jill Bolte Taylor

Whether preparing for finals, oral exams, comps, finishing your thesis/dissertation, or just experiencing the tests of life, this week we offer a brief reminder to remain calm. Tests and deadlines often create a sense of internal questioning and panic. If this is true for you (you’re not alone), and calm is one option for responding to the panic (not always easy!).  Here are some suggestions to encourage a sense of calmness today:

  1. Take a listen to this 10 minute meditation specifically for exam preparation/success. I found the narrator’s voice quite soothing. Also here’s a link to study music (also something I’ve found useful while needing to focus).
  2. Here are 31 Five-Second Reminders that Will Make Calmness Your Superpower . The first tip alone is an inspiring reminder: “Calmness begins the moment you take a deep breath and choose not to allow another person or event to control your thoughts.”
  3. Try the Premium Calm App (for JHU) for free. Available to all JHU students, faculty, and staff, the app includes meditation and breathing exercises, sleep stories, and relaxing nature sounds. There is also content specifically designed for college students. Unlock your Calm subscription