Tips on Mentally Preparing for Grad School
As you prepare for the triumphs and challenges of graduate school, you’ll need to make sure you mentally prepare yourself. In your pursuit of a graduate degree, it can be easy to lose yourself in the process. It’s important to make sure you do all you can to thrive and enjoy the experience. Consider the following tips that will help you mentally prepare for your grad school experience.
1. Develop excellent study habits now.
Even if you’re taking the time to sit down and comb through old material from past classes, study the material in your field. If you’re preparing for the MCAT, take MCAT practice tests. You’ll be able to get a better understanding of ways you can improve your study tactics in order to fully retain and understand the material. Studying is a skill of its own. You can’t just assume that you’ll be able to use the same approach that worked in undergrad. You’ll have to spend more hours with your nose in the books. Figure out if you’re better with early morning studying or mid-day hours. Once you get a better idea of what you need as your optimal environment, you’ll be able to ease into the grad school experience with this component figured out.
2. Create morning and evening routines.
When you’re constantly stressed out about papers and tests, it’s easy to become consumed by it all. Instead, give yourself a mental break each day. Create a morning routine that excludes the use of your phone to check social media or your email. It’s only okay if you’re using the phone for a mental health app practice. Whether you do meditation, take a relaxing bath or exercise, fill your morning and evening routines with activities that help you to unwind, relax and mentally support yourself.
3. Find a mental health counselor.
Many people assume that counseling is only for people when they’re in the midst of a crisis. This isn’t true. In fact, it’s so important to talk with a mental health professional on a regular basis. Even if it’s just twice a month, it’s good to do a check-in. They’ll be able to notice destructive patterns in your thinking. Plus, you’ll be able to get a better understanding of what you need in order to be the best you can be from a mental standpoint.
4. Dig deeper into beneficial relationships.
Continue to develop positive relationships with mentors and friends who have gone to grad school. Take time out to ask questions about what to expect. Learn from their experiences. It’s also good to maintain contact with your loved ones. Make sure that you take time to call them and spend time together. Even when you feel alone in the grad school journey, you can get reassurance that there are people rooting for you who love you.
5. Take breaks.
Schedule time for yourself. During the week, make time to exercise and eat healthy food. Schedule activities that you can look forward to. You can book an appointment at the local spa for a massage or a plan a staycation at a local hotel for the weekend. Once the semester is over, take a vacation to recharge your brain. Once you plan these events in advance, this will help you remain self-motivated.
As you work toward building your mental stamina for the journey, always remember to take it one day at a time. No two days have to be the same. If you have a bad day, learn from it. Grow from it. Make the decision to do your best the next day. Never give up on the journey. Understand that once you commit to the process each moment and give it your all, you’ve succeeded.