Having just entered grad school in September, I have already found it challenging to balance course work, research, volunteer commitments, physical activities, and social life. Not to mention the tasks of daily life – doing laundry, shopping for groceries, making meals, and cleaning my living space. But there are just so many exciting opportunities to take advantage of and so many amazing people to network with! I cannot resist exploring my new life as a grad student.
That being said, I am also mindful in taking care of my overall well-being and strategic in deciding how to manage my time. I’d like to share this quote “smile, breathe, and go slowly” by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is what I remind myself every day and what I aim to practice in my life.
When I don’t reach my own expectations or when I feel mentally drained, I’d tell myself to smile. It has yet to fail at reminding me that the process is the goal and at making me feel loved (and more attractive at that!) Try it, and don’t fake it. Be genuine and remember to smile with your eyes! You will be surprise how such a simple and effortless facial expression can have a tremendous amount of positive influence on your attitude and mood.
Conscious and controlled breathing is an amazing tool of relaxation and concentration. Just ask any yogi! Sometimes I can get really flustered and easily irritated when trying to meet pressing deadline and committing to extracurricular activities while juggling the little things of life. This is when I take a minute to stop my thoughts, lower my shoulders, and just breathe. In and out. Even and controlled. I always feel more calm and able to focus and prioritize better. For me, it is a quick fix for an overwhelmed and anxious mind.
Time is not against you. You have to take charge of time and not be a slave of it. I have a habit of making a weekly to-do list, with time set aside for yoga, running, and volunteer hours. For large tasks or assignments, I break them down into more manageable pieces and assign my own deadlines for them. This gives me a sense of security and a piece of mind – knowing that I will be able to take care of myself, be involved in the community, and complete the required work for school and research. Taking my time in doing each item on the to-do list ensures maximal enjoyment of leisure activities and production of quality work. Of course, I must also be flexible to accommodate unexpected events and be able to compromise accordingly.
Smile, breathe, and go slowly. It won’t hurt to give it a shot. I highly recommend it!