After I graduated from UCLA in 2022, I immediately started my master’s program at UCLA that following fall. I am now in my second year in my program, and I want to talk about how I look after my mental health as a student.
Taking care of my mind and body is a priority in my life. Being kind and respectful to our minds and bodies is how we stay alive and enable us with the ability to accomplish our dreams. Here’s how I prioritize my well-being, and I invite you to try them out or find out what practices work best for you!
1) Have a consistent morning routine.
Starting out my day with the same routine ensures that I am off to a good start. I always start my morning by making my bed. This is something that makes my space feel more put together. My mornings typically consist of going to the gym, eating my breakfast, and then reading a chapter or so of a fun book (not school–related!) before class. I like to have my peace and quiet time in the mornings, so this is how I am able to carve out some “me” time every morning.
2) Complete assignments a little bit each day.
Procrastination is something we all struggle with. UCLA’s academic schedule follows the quarter system, so if you procrastinate, it can be difficult to catch up nearing the end of the 10-week term. At the beginning of each term, I make a note of all the big assignments and due dates for each class so I can see it all laid out. This helps me to plan my weeks and months accordingly, and makes me feel less overwhelmed. Doing readings and assignments one day at a time prevents me from experiencing burnout during the quarter.
3) Have something to look forward to.
Having the same routine of waking up, going to class, going home, doing homework, and then sleeping can feel mundane at times. Something that keeps me energized and excited is to plan something to look forward to. Whether it’s scheduling a coffee date with a friend, facetime with a family member, or going out to dinner – having something to look forward to is really important. Even if it’s something small, having glimpses of happiness in your weeks helps you to stay motivated and feel less alone.
4) Remember that you are worth more than the grades you get.
This quarter, I had one class in particular that was very difficult. I remember feeling overwhelmed and worried that I wouldn’t do well in the class. I was talking to a friend about this class, and they helped me realize that my worth is not defined by any grade I receive. My friend helped me realize that doing my best is all that matters. I had a shift in my mindset and was able to say to myself: This is just a hard class, there is nothing wrong with you. It’s okay if you don’t get straight A’s. It’s okay if some classes are harder than others. What matters is that you were open to learning, embracing your feelings of discomfort, and that you tried your best.
If anyone is having a tough time in school right now, remember that you are not alone. We will get through this together. Don’t forget to take care of yourself, too. Learn more about me at meera-varma.com and follow along at @meeravarma.