CE3 Brownbag, Friday, Sept. 23 @ 12pm: MSES Environmental Student Panel

Join us this Friday, September 23 from 12 – 1 p.m. in Bldg. 22 on The Ridges, Room 221, for the first CE3 Brownbag Lunch this semester as a panel of Master of Science in Environmental Studies students highlight their great environmental research and service projects at the Voinovich School.

The Consortium for Energy, Economics & the Environment (CE3) and the Environmental Studies program hosts a CE3 Brownbag Lunch Series each semester. These Friday forums include an informal lunch presentation and Q&A related to environmental topics of interest. The events are open to all Voinovich School students, as well as OHIO faculty, staff and students and the community.

Free pizza will be available, but feel free to bring your own lunch. This is a green event so bring your own water bottle and make efforts to reduce your food waste.

Not sure how to get up to The Ridges? Check out the Red Line CATS Shuttle, the Athens Public Transit routes, walk or ride your bike.

For additional information, contact Elissa Welch, welche@ohio.edu.

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Just Keep Swimming

If I had to choose one word to describe what I am feeling this week, it would be PRESSURE. Finals week is always a hectic time with papers and exams, but I feel more pressure at the end of this quarter than any other. It’s not because I am swamped with finals to study for either. I was very fortunate this quarter, only having one take-home final to complete. The reason I feel this immense pressure is because I recently realized I have eight weeks to submit a polished final thesis to my committee. I’ve been aware of my timeframe all along, but the reality of the situation hit me like a ton of bricks the other night when I was lying in bed (unable to sleep thinking about my massive to-do list). Not only do I have to finish a 130-page document in the next two months, I have the weight of finding a job hanging on my shoulders.

After June I will no longer have an income, and then six months from June, I will be expected to start paying back student loans. Talk about pressure! I am not writing about this to vent about my problems (although it is oddly therapeutic), I am writing because I know there are many graduate students at the Voinovich School, Ohio University, and across the country that are dealing with these same issues and feeling the weight of work and approaching life-altering decisions.

It is very easy to wallow in self-pity, feeling alone and isolated in the heavy workload you carry, but I am here to tell you that there are many others on the same rollercoaster ride of emotions. Yes, this is a stressful time in our lives, but it is also an exciting time, opening the door to new possibilities.

The next two months are “make or break” and while the tasks ahead seem overwhelming, you can only take one day at a time. Don’t let the pressure overcome you. One of my favorite empowering quotes is by Charles Swindoll and it says, “Life is 10% what happens to you, and 90% how you react to it.” I keep this is mind when the pressure is high and I’m feeling immobilized by fear of failure. So adopt the attitude that you can take on the challenge. Personally, I follow Dori’s philosophy on life when things get tough and “just keep swimming.”

Wellbeing in Week 10

I have always loved to read and write, so graduate school seemed like the perfect fit for me, but year two as a grad student has also proved challenging in this regard. The problem is that most of my reading this year is done on a computer screen rather than on paper. While viewing articles on the computer instead of printing them out is great for the environment, it can wreak havoc on your health.

Most people suffer from computer eye strain due to overusing or misusing computer monitors, bad lighting, or other environmental factors. Computer eye strain can cause burning or dryness in your eyes, blurred vision, neck pain, and headaches. These symptoms can cause physical discomfort, fatigue, and significantly cut your productivity. A lack of productivity is something you cannot afford as a graduate student with a thesis to write, especially in week 10!

There are many suggestions to reduce computer eye strain on the web, but here are a few quick suggestions that I find to be the easiest and most effective adjustments for a busy student.

  1. Light Your Workspace Properly– Bright light and overhead lights are hard on your eyes, so try using table lamps that are off to the side of your computer screen if possible. Adjust window blinds so that the sun is not falling directly on your monitor. Fluorescent lights are tough on your eyes, so if you are forced to work in a space with heavy lighting like the library, adjust your monitor to reduce glare on the screen.
  2. Adjust Your Computer Display Settings- Adjust the brightness of the monitor so it’s about the same as your surrounding area. If your screen looks like a light source, it’s too bright. If it looks dull, it’s too dark. Find the text size and contrast that is most comfortable. Black print on a white background is recommended. Optometrists also recommend keeping the monitor 20-30 inches from your eyes, or about an arm’s length. Text should be more clear and readable from this distance.
  3. Exercise Your Eyes- My optometrist and many others recommend the 20-20-20 rule to reduce the risk of tiring your eyes by staring at a monitor too long. You should look away from your screen every 20 minutes and focus on an object at least 20 feet away for 20 seconds.
  4. Blink Your Eyes Often- People blink about five times less than normal when looking at a computer screen. Tears evaporate more quickly during long sessions of non-blinking, especially in dry work environments, causing dry eyes. To reduce dry eyes, blink 10 times every 20 minutes at a very slow pace, as if you’re falling asleep. This will help keep your eyes lubricated. I also use gel eye drops, which have really helped me with the dry, burning sensation from computer strain.
  5. Take Frequent Breaks- I have found this to be the most effective method of reducing computer eye strain and keeping me focused and productive. Take a break at least once an hour and do a few stretches that will relieve neck and shoulder pain. There are many examples on the web. Set small goals for yourself and take a break as a reward. This will make your work seem more manageable and reduce your stress level while keeping your physical well-being intact.

Stress, Stress, Stress

Is it seriously the end of the quarter??!! As we are beginning Week 9 and moving quickly on to Week 10 and finals week, I have to stop and try to take a deep breath. Where on earth did this quarter go? Though I feel unnecessarily old saying this, as I’ve gotten older, it seems that time just flies by. Maybe it’s because I’ve been so busy, but I’m still wrapping my mind around it already being March!

I’ve finished many of my intermediary projects and papers for the quarter, have moved on to trying to prepare for exams (Eek!) and am preparing currently to hand over the reigns of Passion Works Volunteer Coordination to the Spring Intern that we chose. Because I have so long to prepare for finals, I’m feeling pretty confident about being able to handle the stress, which is very unlike any other finals week I’ve experienced in graduate school. Generally, at this point, I’m completely wigging out, trying to get a handle on my stress, and attempting to organize my life in a way that spreads out the work.

I normally deal with stress in a couple of ways:

  1. Deep breaths and yoga: Just taking 15 minutes to do some sun salutations and deep breathing helps to calm me and bring down my blood pressure and pulse. I have historically low blood pressure, but stress always gets to me!
  2. Taking a long walk: Yes, it’s time consuming. Yes, I spend the beginning of that time thinking about work. But then I relax. This can also be substituted with a Zumba class. Goodness, do I love to Zumba, or what?
  3. Work for 90 minutes then take a half hour break: We had a life and career coach visit out practicum class last year who suggested this strategy and it works! After an hour and a half, I can’t function as creatively and as efficiently as I had before. Taking the break allows me to cool off, revitalize my mind, and prepare myself for more work.

Check out some other stress relief tips:

  1. Get enough sleep! Lack of rest just aggravates stress.
  2. Change the way you see your situation; seek alternative viewpoints: Stress is a reaction to events and problems, and you can lock yourself in to one way of viewing your situation.  Seek an outside perspective of the situation, compare it with yours. and perhaps lessen your reaction to these conditions.
  3. Don’t sweat the small stuff: Try to prioritize a few truly important things and let the rest slide
  4. Don’t overwhelm yourself by fretting about your entire workload. Handle each task as it comes, or selectively deal with matters in some priority

Source: How to Deal with Stress

How do you deal with stress? Any tips I can take under advisement?

Happy Week 9!