Carleen Carey is PhD candidate in Teacher Education at Michigan State University whose research explores how African American adolescents make meaning and construct identities through reading engagement in informal education spaces. You can follow her on twitter at @Carleen_C.
In grad school, wellness, defined here as the deliberate choice to harmonize the physical, emotional, social, and mental aspects of ourselves, can seem like a Rubiks cube. Luckily, there are many hacks such as apps, to help grads put it together by becoming more aware of these facets of themselves. Then, building on this knowledge to increase positive productivity both in and beyond the professional arena can begin. For an example of one remarkable grad's recent journey to greater wellness, visit Katy Meyer’s recent post here. Today's post builds on the momentum of the impending Spring season, detailed in Ashley Wiersema's recent article, and is about identifying the areas of grad school where a few adjustments could lead to better outcomes. This is one way of many to progress toward greater wellness by locating free apps that can help you with these areas in tiny time slots.
Many grads want to eat better and exercise more, yet the time, energy, and information needed to improve your nutrition and exercise habits can be scarce. This is where apps that are single-minded can help busy people. For example, “Daily Workouts Free” is one app that lets me select a mini-workout length and routine on days where getting to the gym is not feasible. Also, if you have fifteen minutes before breakfast or after dinner, “Calorie Counter” is a fun app for setting fitness goals by date or BMI, keeping a food and exercise diary, and monitoring moods. Using these apps helps me to remain aware of my physical health, and begin to think about how these can best support my professional productivity.
Reducing the level of stress grad life can bring is a key aspect to wellness. For some grads, participating in faith communities, having a mediation or yoga practice, or attending writing support groups provides a way to bring awareness to emotional health. I have found that apps designed for short time slots, such as the “Take A Break” meditation app with seven- or thirteen-minute programs, can bring a calmer focus to a busy schedule. My fellow grads also like apps from their favorite motivational speakers, religious leaders, or teachers that deliver a concise inspirational message in the fifteen minutes it takes to find parking on campus. Attending to the emotional and mental side of our lives can help grads to deliberately make choices that arrange our priorities to enhance our academic work.
All in all, paying more attention in less time to the ways that grads can practice self-awareness on multiple levels can have important implications for how we structure our professional time. For example, if through monitoring our selves, we realize that we sleep better on days where we exercise in the morning and mediate just before bed, we can adjust our schedules to reflect this, and perhaps garner greater productivity. It is also helpful to realize the many areas where we need to increase time spent or to mute the analytical side of our brain.
To that end, I ask, what are some ways that you have found harmony in grad school? How have practices, such as mindfulness, as described here by Eva Lantsoght, helped you to discover insights about yourself or how to navigate the grad school process? Share your experiences in the comments below.