September 30, 2015

5 Things to Do To Stay Sane In Grad School {plus juggling everything else}

The countdown to Chicago is on and I've made it just over a month into my first semester of grad school. Jumping into a professional Occupational Therapy Master's program has been exciting but crazy busy. Changing my schedule and dealing with lots of simultaneous projects, studying for classes, and fitting in the rest of my life drives me crazy some days.  Even if you aren't in school, these tips could be applied towards any busy week!  Here are some of the things I've been doing to try to balance school, work, fun, and marathon training.  


1. Schedule in at least one consistent stress-relief activity.
 For me I feel so much better with a morning run or sweat session and need to make time for it each week.  Some days lately I can't sneak a run in because of lack of sleep, schoolwork, work, and life but too many days of no runs would drive me crazy.  I need those easy morning runs with time to reflect and think before most of the city is awake.

The days I get morning views like this are the best. 
 In school we are always talking about occupational balance, and it's such an important concept. We need both work AND play in a balance. 

Morning runs don't have to be your thing. Maybe your thing is to always spend X night watching Netflix or going out to eat. Maybe your stress-relief activity is just morning yoga or spending extra time to leisurely cook a nice meal. Build it into your schedule.  

2. Portable snacks and food.
I don't know what it is about sitting in classes that makes me so hungry. With my days on campus packed mostly back-to-back with classes not only packing lunches but packing plenty of snacks is key.  I always makes sure I've got easy snacks like fruit, baby carrots, protein bars, and LesserEvil mini popcorn bags in my backpack for when I'm hungry and stuck in class. 

I try to find packaged snacks that have lots of protein and are satisfying. Quest Bars have been awesome because they have lots of protein and satisfy my sweet tooth. 

Quest Nutrition mint chocolate chunk bar
  Luckily we have access to a refrigerator so I can pack some of my favorite cold snacks like greek yogurts or the local skyr smoothies from B'more Organic.  This coffee-flavored smoothie has 46g of protein, no added sugar, and is easy to drink in class or on the go. 

B'more Organic Skyr Smoothies are an awesome for on the go. 

3. A planner. 
Being organized is the most important thing. There is NO way I can keep track of everything I need to be at, homework, tests, work, social events, races, and appointments without writing everything down in my planner. Also I need to plan out things like 6 months in advance, no joke. 

Find what organizational system works for you whether that be your phone, Google calendar, whatever. Write stuff down because otherwise you will forget everything and drive yourself crazy. 

Speaking of which, anyone have an affordable favorite planner suggestion?

4. A support system. 
I wouldn't make half my workouts lately if I wasn't meeting a group of people or knowing I told some November Project tribe members I'd be there. Having the purpose of meeting people is major accountability for getting my butt out of bed in the mornings. 

It's also about having family and friends and significant others that can help you out whether that's running that errand for you so you have one less thing to do, offering moral support, buying you chocolate, editing your papers, or offering up fun things to do in the little spare time you have.  Don't be afraid to rely and lean on people a little more during this stressful time. 

For example, I never would have gotten out of my warm bed to go do a track workout at 5:30 AM yesterday if it I didn't tell a group I'd meet up with them.

Post-track workout all-stars.
5. Coffee. Everyday. Anytime.
 Enough said. 
Truth bomb {source}
What is your best way to stay sane during really busy weeks?  Do you use a planner? What's your favorite one?


  1. It's too easy to let one aspect of our lives consume us! Good job on being balanced while taking on grad school!!

    1. Thanks so much-it's so easy to get caught up in not having a balance, for sure!

  2. I would NEVER be able to stay on top of my job/life if I didn't use a planner. I get a fairly cheap paper planner from Target (brand is Blue Sky:, but I love it. It works perfectly for how I need my work planner to function. Everything else goes on my iPhone calendar, which has also been a lifesaver. I don't even want to think about how many things I'd forget if I didn't have a calendar!

    Bethany @ Accidental Intentions

    1. Ah thanks for suggesting that-Target is my go to spot, but I hadn't seen the Blue Sky line yet.

  3. Ah, grad school life. I trained for my first half marathon while writing my thesis. It seriously saved me!

    1. Running=sanity when in school for sure. I've had to miss more runs lately, and it seriously makes me feel crazy.

  4. I agree it's SO much easier to wake up knowing you're going to November Project. I also HAVE to start my stressful days with morning runs. The idea of throwing grad school into the mix is terrifying but I know running will remain that constant. We missed you this morning!

    1. Going to be at 1 AM after a long day plus being sore meant I needed some extra Zzzs this AM. I missed the tribe as well!

  5. I can't even imagine being in grad school. It's been yrs since I've been in school and can't say I miss it. I'm sure running relieves much stress. However I don't think I could get up and do it at 530 am. Kudos to you!

    1. I thought being in school would be nice again but grad school and actually being an adult this time around makes it stressful.

  6. This planner from target: ...only $10 (which is like 1/3 of the cost of a Lilly Pulitzer planner)!!! Can't express how much I love this planner...just follow the link and go see it for yourself because I could talk about it for hours.

  7. Thanks so much for the great suggestion-I'm definitely checking it out!

  8. I own a Filofax binder. It uses A5 paper, which is almost 5.5x8.5". The binder can be a little pricey, but it's classic. You will use it for years. There are people on Etsy that design inserts you can print yourself or pay to have printed. It was my LIFESAVER as an undergrad, mom of 3 boys, and business owner of 2 companies. Grad school, here I come!

    ---> I use the mom planner because it is the academic year and has three slots for three kids but I label them differently(I label them Life, Work, School). AWESOME ring binding, plenty of space and monthly, weekly and yearly views.

  10. I love these tips Lauren! Your story is similar to most other grad students. It sounds like you're doing great so far! I know as long as you continue to maintain a good schedule for prioritizing your work, and taking time to care for yourself, then you'll continue to rock it!