We are fortunate to have another guest blog post this week! Gaby from this year’s IEDP cohort is here to share her experiences and thoughts on wellness at Penn. If you have kept up with our blog posts, you probably have heard a lot about how grad school and IEDP can be challenging and all that. But fear not — at IEDP, one will always find a way to look after oneself. And Gaby introduces a few tactics in this post.

As the semester draws to a close and we work to prepare presentations and finalize final papers, it’s easy to start feeling overwhelmed… especially after that teaser of a break: Thanksgiving. We love the turkey and time spent with friends but could do without the going back to school part. As someone who tends to get very overwhelmed about everything, this time is especially difficult but there ARE ways to get through it! Here are some of the things that help me get through finals:

1. Working out at Pottruck Fitness Center, conveniently located right across GSE.

For me, exercise is an important part of my routine because it helps take my mind off assignments and calms me down. It may seem that there’s not enough time but it doesn’t have to be a long workout to be effective. Trust me, I’ve done 30 minute workouts that have left me sore for days. But even THAT is not the point. The point is love yourself, take care of your body. The truth is, you may have an easier time focusing if you focus on yourself first. For anyone really motivated but doesn’t know where to start, Pottruck offers free fitness classes during finals and has Wellness Wednesdays throughout the semester. Here’s a flyer of this semester’s events.

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2. Eating 3 wholesome and healthy meals per day.

Ever had a delicious hamburger with fries and then a couple of hours later felt like death? Ok, I might be exaggerating but seriously, I always feel so heavy and lethargic after eating junk food. Eating healthy makes me feel better and even helps me get a better night’s sleep. Having a proper sit down meal also forces us to slow down; again allowing ourselves time to reflect and really take care of us. I can’t say I’m always on top of this one but I definitely feel it when I’m not.

3. Finding friends that you can talk to and lean on for support.

It’s easy to forget that I am not alone and that there are people rooting for me; that I have a whole support system. Talk to friends and family from home or better yet, someone from your cohort that you feel close to because they are also going through finals and in a lot of cases, the same finals. You and your Friends from your program can mutually lift each other up and remind each other to take breaks. I truly believe that tasks become easier when you realize you are not alone and have friends that can help ease your fears and anxieties. And trust me, by the end of the semester you and your cohort will be close; that’s probably one of my favorite things about this program so far, the friendships that have blossomed from it.

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Gaby and her technical proposal group after their presentation.

This is my brief list of things that help, and have been helping, me through finals but I’m sure there are plenty of other ways that could help with the stress levels. A common theme throughout it is important to slow down and take care of yourself. Your health and wellbeing is worth so much more than a paper!!