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Time Lords: A Lesson for Graduate Students

November 26, 2012
Holiday break over. We've spent time with loved ones. We've given our thanks for the people and things in life we are grateful for. We've waited in line (hopefully not too long) for that Xbox bundle, and now it's time to burn off those extra calories!

--but not before those two papers for those classes are done --oh, and let's not forget to study for those three finals and to edit that role play video assignment, count up our hours and apply for next year's internships, and...


Like my youngest sister says...

The holidays appear on the surface to be time off, but if you are a graduate student you know that the holiday time off just means it's time to study for competency exams, or work on your dissertation draft, and you might have to make up the hours you've missed at that internship later. It doesn't sound very relaxing at all!

How can we ever be in charge of our own time? How can we find true moments of relaxation if we just don't have time for that?  Here are ten ways, each summarized in two self explanatory words (except for the last one-worded thing... I couldn't find a way to elongate it), many of which can be done from the comfort of your home or office, and can have some effect after just minutes: 

1) Muscle relaxation

2) Deep breathing

3) Slow walking

4) Mindful eating

5) Mindful meditation

6)... Mindful anything

7) Cat-petting

8) Dog-grooming

9) Aquarium-watching

10) Stretching

I'm no wizard. These things won't make the dreaded deadlines go away, and you still have to do your OWLs competency exams, but they can help you feel more centered. 

For example, people who practice mindfulness meditation tend to feel more in touch with the present moment, and more relaxed and less anxious in general. The focus in mindfulness is focusing on your breathing process, inhaling deeply and exhaling slowly, and as we know, physiologically when your breathing is regulated so is your body, and you will feel less agitated. Deep breathing and muscle relaxation are coping skills for anxiety, as is pet therapy.

How often have you visited a doctor's office and encountered a small water fountain or a fish aquarium in the lobby or waiting area? The sound of water, as in a waterfall or an aquarium, tends to help people feel more relaxed, and we've all heard of the benefits of yoga, which I call extreme stretching (though of course it is more than that!)

You won't have more time, but feeling more centered can help you be more in charge of your time. And one lesson I've learned from the Doctor is you should always aspire to be more in charge of your time.

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