As I begin my graduate journey, I am learning that there are two things crucial to my research which my advisor probably won’t mention. I am finding that both general rest
and spending time outside
are indispensable to both my well-being and also my clarity of mind. When I find myself too caught up in school to do these things, my quality of work and living both decline.
Sometimes (okay, okay…most of the time,) it seems impossible for me to let myself rest from research, classes, etc. Even when I am done with the day’s tasks, I feel guilty for stopping. My mind continues to run and problem-solve. The result is that my ‘rest’ time isn’t restful and I get completely burned out, frustrated, and depressed. Being home for Thanksgiving revealed to me the benefits of truly allowing myself to rest. This is not to say that we should all take 3-4 day weekends every week. Unfortunately, we cannot afford that. I do believe, however, that it is important to set aside time each day to rest from school-related work and even school-related thinking. This time also needs to be free from guilt for not working on school-related things. I have found that genuine rest refreshes my mind and enables me to accomplish more while feeling less oppressed by my work load.
I love being outside. Sadly, as part of my inability to rest, I often deprive myself of outdoors time in order to drive myself towards accomplishment. We were created to relish in nature. Deprivation from nature, I believe, is among the cruelest and most unhealthy of deprivations. It starves our mind and soul for serenity. When I do step outside, if only for a bike ride, I can feel the emotional improvement that takes place. Then, I grasp at control of the chaos again through incessant work and remove myself from natural stress-relief. Instead, shouldn’t I lean in to the unwind that comes from being surrounded my trees, water, fields, etc.? Being outside is good for us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Thus, it is so worth the time invested. I am convinced that restful time in nature is the most worthwhile of all ways to rest, in fact. So, instead of draining myself through academia, I want to invest the time in being refreshed through being outside.
*I’m not making this stuff up…check out these articles if you’re interested:
To wrap up, I’m just learning that I shouldn’t be putting living
on hold while I do graduate work. It is neither healthy nor productive to isolate ourselves from our beliefs, friends, passions, and interests. I believe that the more we are flourishing personally, the more we can excel academically.
Heather is a masters candidate in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences.