mental health

Building Your Emotional Arsenal for Grad School and beyond.

Grad School doesn’t have to be an emotional rollercoaster.

Grad School doesn’t have to be an emotional rollercoaster.

Alright, so boom. School has started you've gotten into the swing of your schedule (I hope).  You're getting readings done, sitting in the front of the class, turning in those assignments not just on time but a little early! Yes! Go you! Handle that biz! Ride the wave with all the wins.

Now hear me out when I say this because it's grounded in truth and the intention of helping you NOT to put down all the good that's happening.  With that said: Something is going to go NOT right.  You may forget your reading. You might be tired from a long day, or two or three, and get behind. You may be late to class and find someone new in your seat (sidenote: literally the most annoying thing ever 🙄🙄) and you'll have to sit in the back.

Before these moments happen, it's useful to have some tools at your disposal to help you deal with these situations and do so in a healthy manner. I don't think there are one-size-fits-all solutions so instead here are some prompts to help you sort through what that may look like for you. You can use this blog post as a guide to writing your answers in your phone, journal, whatever.


1. What are some of the types of feelings I experience when things don't go as planned?


Maybe you're feeling overwhelmed, deflated, lethargic, angry, sad, or simply not your best. Different situations will elicit different responses but identifying 2-3 different feelings will help in crafting a strategy when those moments arise. If you are having a hard time figuring out those feelings go back to a moment from your job or previous education experiences and think on a moment when something didn't go well. It doesn’t need to be an event that reintroduces trauma (I'd advise against that), more like a smaller but still emotion-evoking events that you can review and use that to inform your answer.


2. When these events arise what do I need?


This question comes straight from my therapist, but it is a game-changer. In moments when my anxiety shoots through the roof and if I take a moment to notice what's going on, I go back to this question. There are two reasons this is good. First, it helps you to think of solutions to move to a better headspace and second it puts you back in control of how you're feeling. There's no wrong answer for this but think of stressful moments in the past and actions that went well or didn't go as well.


3. What kind of support do I want to give myself?

 This isn't bubble baths and manicures. I'm referring to caring for your emotional and mental self. How can you soothe yourself? Can breathing exercises or body movement (e.g. yoga, stretching, etc.). Affirmations? A nap? Journaling? Whatever those things might be, make a quick list that you can reference. 


4. What kind of support do I want from others?

Do you need solitude? Positive reinforcement? A listening ear (with or without commentary)? Know that every situation doesn't require the same response but again having this toolkit at your disposal makes it easier to manage when get hairy. I've shared on Episode 51: Emotional Rollercoaster, about my team of family and friends I call when I need support. They each offer something a little different, my brother/mentor Maurice gives me tough love that is grounding about this experience, my friend Kelsie prays with and for me and provides the empathy I need at times. My friend Liza is my strategy partner, we figure out smart next steps, she's even helped me craft emails when I’m at a loss for words. My momma also boosts me up. I don't call all of them every time but I know who to call and what I need from each.


5. What turns my mood up?


This is when we get to the manicures, the bubble baths and such. What are some gifts you can give to yourself? Something of these things maybe maintenance activities others may be in case of emergency activities. I maintain with doing my nails (more budget-friendly than going to the salon) and using my favorite body wash and body butter--it's a lil’ lavish I admit but it's a small boost in my days that make other sacrifices feel a little less intense. Emergency mood boosters might be some LIGHT shopping, happy hour, listening to your favorite podcast, or dessert to turn that mood up! Think about it and figure those out as well for a well-rounded emotional emergency toolkit.


I hope this post was helpful. We'll be discussing this over in the group chat next week. These also make for great journal prompts if you're into that sort of thing. Chime in and let us know what works for you or learn about something new!