Tips for Grads: Scheduling Wellness Into Your Semester

By Olivia Gacka, PhD student

As you begin making plans for fall 2021, you’re doubtless scheduling various academic and professional commitments into your calendar. In doing so, it can be really easy to fill your planner to the brim without leaving any time for a wellness break or two. It can feel trivial to pencil in the words “off day” at the same time you’re accounting for final exams, but the truth is that you can’t perform on an empty tank. So, while it can feel counterproductive to schedule time geared specifically towards not working, in the long run doing so is what will help you cross the finish line.

You can schedule wellness breaks in whatever size and quantity that feels right to you. Whether that’s an hour every week or one big weekend off, being able to look forward to some time to recharge will help you get through some of the more difficult parts of your semester. If you’re leaning towards shorter, weekly wellness breaks, that can look like signing up for a yoga class, scheduling a bike ride for the same time every week, going to the Farmers’ Market, or designating Wednesdays at 6 pm to be your hour to watch an episode of your favorite show. If you like the idea of scheduling a bigger break in the middle of the semester, think about planning something you’ll look forward to, like a weekend trip to a neighboring city, or a designated day of fall activities like apple picking and pumpkin carving. Whether you plan one big break or many tiny ones, you’ll give yourself something to look forward to that will help clear your mind and unburden some of the heavy load we carry as graduate students.

It is vital to remember that wellness is not frivolous, but an essential component of succeeding in graduate school and thriving as a human being. At the end of the day, there are hundreds of ways to incorporate wellness into your life and academic calendar. It doesn’t matter if you plan a big getaway or a weekly hour of staring at the ceiling, as long as you commit to doing something for yourself.

Tips for Grads is a professional and academic advice column written by graduate students for graduate students at UW­–Madison. It is published in the student newsletter, GradConnections Weekly.