Thriving in the Midst of Change

Published: Tues., August 25, 2020

This semester may be full of changes. Teaching roles or responsibilities may look different from how you initially intended. Some of your classes may be online or partially remote. Your research or how you communicate with your faculty or lab members may have changed. In additionally, you may have had significant changes in your personal life—whether that means working from home more, changes in childcare availability, or new concerns about your family or personal life.

Change is inevitable, but how you react to it is what really matters. Being able adapt and succeed in the midst of changes is important. There may be some changes that you do not like or that are hard to adjust to. It may also feel like some things are out of your control and some are. Remember you still control how you react to those changes.

Take self-care seriously

You’ve probably heard the term self-care before. Self-care means making time for the things that will relax you or help you deal with any anxiety you may be feeling. The strategies you choose may be different from those other people choose. Some people love exercise and find it important to make time for working out. Sometimes exercises like yoga or going for a long walk can be a good way to relax and clear your mind. Others may have hobbies like arts and craft projects or playing video games to relax. Others may prefer things like finding time to listen to or play music, watch TV or movies, or read. It doesn’t matter what you do as long as you have an outlet outside of your classwork or research.

Additionally, it is important that you look after your health as much as possible. This means making sure you are eating as well as you can. Find time to take breaks for meals even if it’s just 20 minutes away from your desk—it will make a difference in your mental health and focus. If you experience food insecurity, the Husker Pantry is also available to help.

Even if you only have an hour a day that you can reserve for yourself, it is important that you do so.

Keep to a schedule (when you can)

Whether you are regularly going to campus or not, having a regular schedule is important. Plan to be in a consistent place for work each day at a consistent time. Of course, changes will happen, but having a schedule will help you feel like you have some control, even when there may be other aspects of your life you cannot control. It will also make you more productive. It can be easy to get distracted working at home or when your schedule is disrupted, but consistency can be reassuring.

Seek out support and answers

There are a lot of questions you may not know the answers to. That may mean reaching out to our office, your faculty members, or other offices on campus. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. Staff across campus are here to help you figure out what’s going on and what you should do. Just remember that sometimes changes may happen quickly and staff may be trying to figure things out for themselves before responding. Be patient.

If you find yourself experiencing a great deal of stress or anxiety, please reach out for help. CAPS and Big Red Resilience and Well-Being are there to help you. There are therapists available to work with students and well-being coaches specifically for graduate students and their needs.

Be kind and support friends and colleagues when you can

Just as confusing as this may be for you it will be for your friends too. Talk with or meet up with friends and colleagues. Make sure you make time to hang out with each other--even if virtually. Support each other as much as you can. Yes, this may be a challenging time, but it would be even more so if you were navigating it alone. Even if you don’t know the answers just being there for each other can be helpful.

Practice mindfulness

Take a few breaths to calm yourself if you find yourself getting anxious or worried. Mindfully engaging in meditation or breathing exercises may help you re-center yourself or get to a better head space. Pay attention to your mental and emotional states. If you need to take a step back to address those needs, don't hesitate to do so. Your mental, physical, and emotional health are all equally important to your success as a student.