This Is How I Study: Part 3

Inspired by the popular Lifehacker series, This Is How I Work, and the companion post from Letters to a Young Librarian, we here at Hack Library School would like to share with you some of the tools and tips we’ve learned during our time in school. This series, titled This Is How I Study, will feature questions (some original, some borrowed) about study habits and technology must-haves that we have found to be effective. You can find parts one and two of the series here and here. As always, we welcome comments and tweets, so feel free to share your own tried and true methods with the HLS community.

Question 3:

How do you de-stress or unwind after a long day (or night) of studying?


Work-life balance and stress reduction are two things I’ve put a lot of thought into, especially right now! I try to work on my dissertation every day, and apply to a job every day, so destressing after all that is important. I try to do yoga at least a couple times a week, and to meditate as often as possible–being present and turning my brain off for a moment helps me feel grounded and reset enough to be able to enjoy my downtime a bit more. When I’m not working on stuff, I try to do things that don’t involve more staring at my computer screen–I do outdoor stuff (hiking, beach, kayaking, etc), make some art, or go out for a drink with friends.


Echoing Julia, work-life balance is super important. Personally I have found that journaling at night is the best way for me to decompress after a long day of studying. It takes all of the energy bouncing around in my active memory and puts in on the page. I don’t capture all my thoughts, but the act of putting any of them down helps expel the energy that keeps me up late and makes distracted from my life and work. Additionally, I enjoy riding my bike, the occasional video game, and leisure reading.


Journaling is huge for me, too. Whenever I start feeling frazzled, I make myself go write about it so that I can identify those feelings and better deal with what’s really bothering me. Sometimes I write about my day in general or the stuff I’m working on at work or for school, and sometimes I just write a to-do list before I go to bed, so I won’t lie there for hours worrying that I’ll forget to do something the next day. If all else fails, I clean. The physical action of it, plus the uplifting results help me out a lot. My life may be momentarily in shambles, but if my bathtub is sparkling, everything seems a little more tolerable.


I am not very good at work/life balance. I am an obliger, which means that I respond to work, school, and other external obligations before internal obligations. I would love to say that I de-stress through regular exercise (my favorites including zumba, barre, kayaking, and hiking), but the truth is that I have a hard time sticking to things like that when I’m a student. There are three things that I do fairly regularly, though, to unwind. I love walking my greyhound, Odin, and I enjoy playing my Wii U (currently playing Hyrule Warriors). I take bubble baths (LUSH products are a must!) several times a week. Candles, bath bombs, music, and the obligatory glass of wine make a perfect combination for relaxing!


The gym is my new best friend! I recently found a membership for only $10 a month, so after a long day at the reference desk, I can turn off my brain and move until the endorphins kick in. Anyone working customer service or at a service point in a library (is there a difference? File this under: questions for another post) knows that harvesting the massive amount of patience it takes to help people for seven hours a day is hard, and sometimes you have to let go of any residual frustration before it gets misdirected at home. It also helps after long hours of writing papers or reading for class — do you ever stop in the middle of a schoolwork marathon and find that how you’ve been sitting for the past two hours just cannot be good for your back? Sometimes I just have to move a bit: new energy for new ideas.


Reading has always been my favorite way to relax. Right now I’m reading In the Time of the Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. Next up is Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I also find that exercising helps me de-stress and gives me more energy. I try to hit the gym three times a week, but when time is short even little things like biking to work or doing twenty minutes of yoga make me feel great. On the worst days, I resort to cozy pajamas, a glass of wine, and reruns of Friends with my cats.


Similar to Courtney, I am almost always thinking about what is coming up next at work or school. I project a great deal about things that haven’t yet happened, and get stressed about hypothetical results. My immediate solution at the end of the day is to walk my dogs (weather permitting) and then put on my pajamas and cozy up with them in front of the TV.  Somehow, though, I always end up with the computer in front of me, writing just one last email before the day is over! However, my ultimate method for de-stressing is to lay out all of my art supplies on the dining room table, blast my favorite album (currently Phantogram’s Blackout Days), and get creative. I am really into linoleum printmaking at the moment, and have found the physicality of the carving to be an excellent therapy session.


Similar to others on the list, I struggle with putting work projects/emails/worries aside when I’m at home. It’s helpful for me to create “off-hour” agreements with my partner, blocking off time for family events. I’ll bake muffins with my kid after school, don some face paint and play cat dance party (his favorite), or spend Saturday morning at the park. Slow Sunday breakfasts at home is a must, and with a hectic 7-day work week, it’s a nice reminder of what matters most.


I’ve just read everyone else’s responses. Gym, journaling, bubble baths, walking dogs… what happened to Candy Crush and binge watching a favorite TV show? I’m definitely not as intentional in my destressing as my fellow writers! At the end of the day–and with the exception of days when I have class, I do either work or school, not both–I just want to shut my brain off. And this means games on the iPad and a Netflix marathon. Speaking of which, an episode of Parenthood is calling my name. Gotta run!


Juggling my schedule of two jobs plus studying plus committee commitments and everything else can be tricky, so like Becky I make sure I have time to turn my brain off.  Last month my week changed so now I have two days off from work a week instead of just one, so I have more time to fit everything in. Netflix and Amazon Prime are a must, but so’s sticking TLC on and watching a few hours of people picking wedding dresses.  I also knit, and crochet, which helps me calm down – a few rows of purling on a shawl is the perfect time to let your subconscious work over everything that’s going on, I’ve had some great assignment breakthroughs that way and I’m more relaxed!

Categories: Day in the Life

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