By Olivia Gacka, PhD Student
I am willing to say with approximately 94% certainty that every single conversation I’ve had with a fellow graduate student in the last week has resulted in either me or the person I’m talking to saying “Oh, you know, it’s that time of the semester” and making a face that I’m certain you can all perfectly imagine right now. We’re tired. It’s getting colder. Work is piling up. There are various mechanisms with which to cope with stress, but the one I want to talk about today is listening to music.
There have been a number of studies conducted to assess the effects of music not just on our moods, but on our health and ability to focus. So while it may seem counterintuitive to stop working to be more productive, it could be worth it for you in the short and long term.
Here are some ways to fit more music into your life:
- Check out campus offerings: Being on a university campus means we have a ton of accessible and diverse live music at our fingertips! Just in the next few weeks alone there is an upcoming opera about survivors of the Holocaust, a string quartet performance, a brass quintet playing the scores to famous movies, and a hip hop/jazz/pop fusion group playing on campus. You can go with one of my suggestions, or just search the calendar using the keyword “music” for ideas.
- Make playlists: If you prefer a more personal listening experience, playlists are a great way to cater the music you’re hearing to whatever you’re looking for, whether you need to be amped up or calmed down. I know you might say, “Olivia, it’s November, I have way too much to do”, but I’m telling you I have never regretted taking ten minutes to create a playlist that I go back to time and time again. Give future you the gift of a custom playlist!
- Listen to the known and unknown: While there’s definitely something to be said for the mood boost that comes from listening to an old favorite, some of the purported benefits of listening to music come from listening to music you don’t know. Try a mix of catching a performance you know you’ll love and listening to that album your friend keeps asking you to listen to but you haven’t yet because it’s not your thing, and see whether the feelings of comfort or invigoration are more palpable for you.
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.