Mental health

Today on the podcast we spent the time discussing the importance of self care and mental health. Now, because I know not everyone likes to listen to podcasts I’ve decided to step up my blogging game for this podcast and include more detail about what was discussed. This is going to be a trial run so if you have any requests or advice for future posts let me know!

We had two guests this week, both from out lab, Audrey and Eric. Audrey is a second year PhD student and you can find her and check out her work over on twitter @AudreyMaran and on her blog. Her work focuses on how emergent insects decompose on farm fields
here in Ohio. Eric is a second year masters student. His research focuses on how the functional traits of worms and millipedes (how they use soil and resources) are affected by warming.

We began our discussion by looking more closely at the difficulties of grad school. I know many of us feel stressed out on a pretty regular basis. Audrey mentioned that she often feels “hills of activity” where there will be moments of high activity and a lot of stress followed by moments where everything is more relaxed. If you are a procrastinator, I think these moments are even more apparent as you put off doing things until it becomes too stressful. Then there is a flurry of activity to get the task done followed by more inactivity. Lists are a good way to space out these moments.

Additionally, setting deadlines for yourself can also help to alleviate some stress. However, if you are someone who works best under pressure this may not work for you. One way around this is to set deadlines with your advisor so the pressure is a little more serious. Again though, we learned through our discussion that everything is dependent upon the individual person. Perhaps you crave the pressure of having a deadline approach or maybe you enjoy getting things done right away. As long as you get it done with as little stress as possible it is up to you!

Dealing the with stress is a whole other beast, though. We came to the conclusion that it is important to have hobbies outside of your work. For me, cooking helps me relax and get my mind of the stress of work. Setting aside time to make myself a healthy (or not so healthy) meal always makes me feel ready to tackle my next task. Along with this I also find myself watching a lot of cooking videos and Netflix. I love Netflix. As a graduate student it is daunting to come home and read or write after I have spent my entire day doing those two things.

Netflix or video games (basically anything mindless) is a way that many of us decompress and you shouldn’t feel guilty about that. We are all human and we need time away from work. Never judge your productivity against another person. If you need to take a day and watch Netflix don’t feel guilty because you aren’t being productive, even in your hobbies. If working every hour of every day makes you feel stressed and unhealthy that probably isn’t the way you should be living your life. Ultimately, you probably are sacrificing some productivity because you are stressed.

In academia, it is also incredibly prevalent to have feelings of self-doubt and imposter syndrome. If you haven’t heard of imposter syndrome I urge you to give it a Google. Imposter syndrome often leaves you believing that your success was somehow a fluke or an accident; someone made a mistake and you shouldn’t be where you are. It affects most of our lab although it should be noted that it gets better. As you continue to reinforce that your success is legitimate, you begin to have fewer feelings of doubt.

Finally, we discussed illness and stress. Being stressed can weaken your immune system because you may not be eating properly or sleeping well. I know that I’ve been sick many times over the past couple months and I attribute this partially to stress. I also get chronic headaches caused by a variety of triggers. One of these triggers is stress. Headaches are annoying because at best they are distracting which limits your productivity and ultimately can make you feel more stressed.

Overall, it is important to maintain a healthy lifestyle throughout grad school. Do not forget yourself during the process of studying. If you aren’t mentally and physically healthy it will be more difficult to get through all of your work. Also, as a final note, if you feel that your mental health is interrupting your everyday life please take advantage of the resources around you. If you are at a university chances are you are already paying for concealing services within your fees, so set up a meeting if you are feeling uncomfortable with the way you’re feeling or need help dealing with stress.

Hope you enjoyed the podcast and stay healthy friends!

Meat Substitute

Another edition of meat free meals! Today, inspired by our friends tacos and a coupon, I tried Quorn “beef” crumble! The texture was great, but the taste was a little off. However, I think it was because there was too little taco seasoning. There was more “beef” than I was expecting!

9/10 would make again, but with some modification to the seasoning.

Encouraging our listeners!

I’m so unbelievably proud! We received this photo from a friend. Inspired by our podcast, she made tacos with a meat substitute! Best yet, SHE LOVED THEM! We are thrilled to have had an impact like this on our friend. I can only hope to receive more stores like this! If you’re trying something we suggested in our latest episode, PLEASE share your story with us!

Meat Substitutes

Have you listened to our latest podcast? We promised to eat less meat in the new year and today we tried our first meat substitute! CORNDOGS! 😍 We are huge fans of corndogs and these were awesome! They tasted exactly like normal microwave corndogs. It was actually completely unexpected and wild.

10/10 would eat again – Cari

10/10 for corndogs – Caitlin

Episode 4 – An Eco-friendly New Year


Have you made your New Year’s resolution yet? We switched it up a little this week and decided to tell you all a little about our New Year’s resolutions. This year Cari and I have decided to protect our environment by making simple changes to our lives.

In particular, we talk about switching up our habits of using plastic straws because of their impact on sea turtles. You can find many reusable straws on amazon. Recently, I bought these straws from Amazon. You cannot taste the metal and they are easy to clean. I keep one in my purse and have stopped using straws when I go out to restaurants.

We also talk about meat consumption throughout this podcast. Both Cari and I want to eat less meat during the New Year. Most conventional meat is not only bad for the environment, but it also is dangerous for us. As we talk about in this podcast, conventionally raised meat is given an abundance of antibiotics which leads to mutations within the bacteria. These bacteria then become resistant and antibiotics and can lead to infections that are unable to be cured using antibiotics. If you would like to know more, you can check out this article as well as this article. Additionally, you can check out the actual study here.

Finally, we talk about ways to make your home more eco-friendly and save you money on your heating bills by closing up your windows with window kits. if your windows are as drafty as mine you should cover them easily with plastic window kits. Usually, you can find these in the home improvement section of your Walmart and in hardware stores.

We hope that our listeners take the time to try and be a little more eco-friendly this year. By no means are we saying that you have to do everything, but even making a small change could help out the planet and make your life better.