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Balancing Work and Play

Graduate Students

 By Graduate Student Emerson Epstein

Let's face it, we're all busy. Finding a balance between our professional and personal lives can be hard. While our graduate work provides us with a great deal of gratification and meaning - likely why we are doing what we are doing - we often find ourselves missing other enjoyable activities, such as our hobbies. We can sometimes lose sight of these activities in the midst of a busy semester. However, it's important to keep our personal life in existence without compromising our professional life and without our professional life obviating our personal life. Throughout all of this, especially in your personal life, it's important to be mindful in these activities (i.e., be in the present moment).         

There are great benefits to striking this balance. First, sustaining a personal life contributes to a level of well-being that we know of as positive experiences. Sure the meaning we find from our professional life is great, but the positive experiences we gain from our personal life are equally important for our character, identity, and even humanity, and can even wash away some of the listlessness that comes with aspects of graduate school. Second, having a rich, or at least an existent, personal life makes us feel activated. This elated activation doesn't just stay compartmentalized in our personal life. It infuses into our whole person, in such a way that our professional life reaps the benefits. We become more energetic, creative, flexible, productive, and resilient in a variety of areas of our life, including our professional life.  

First, it's important to make sure your professional life is not compromised and that you have free time to schedule fun and exciting activities. Actively scheduling and prioritizing everything you need to do for the week helps keep your professional life in order. You can use applications to stay organized (e.g., iCal or Google calendar). These tools help make sure that everything that needs to get done actually gets done, thereby freeing up time for your personal life. Some people like lists and find it very rewarding to scratch items off one by one. Anyways, have fun with it. Take some time to figure out what works for you. It will pay off in the long run.              

Sometimes when our anxiety starts to rise, however, we become so overwhelmed with everything that needs to be done. Anxiety increases our physiological arousal and narrows your attentions. That's okay, however. Use this physiological arousal to mobilize your efforts, and use this narrowed attention to focus on what needs to be done, one step at a time.              

Now that you have organized your professional life, it's time for your personal life. Keeping with the theme of this segment, "Living in Reno," it's great to know that Reno has a lot to offer for those that want to maintain their personal life. If you like to stay active, Reno has options. For instance, if you like hiking, check out this website . Hunter Creek Canyon has a beautiful waterfall. If you need to fix your bike so you can ride around, Reno Bike Project is a great place to learn how to fix your own bike, for ridiculously cheap! Tubing down the Truckee River in the summer is always a great time. A lot of people put in at Mayberry Crossing Park. In the winter, Reno is great for skiing and snowboarding, e.g., Mt. Rose Ski Tahoe.              

For some inner city fun, Reno knows how to have a good time. Reno midtown is a nascent location with great bars (e.g., Craft, St. James Brasserie) and restaurants (e.g., Sup, Midtown Eats). Reno Riverwalk District is another fun area to explore. If you like to laugh, Reno has several places for comedy. Most notably is Pioneer Underground - it's hilarious! If you're into music, the Knitting Factory and Grand Sierra Resort always have great acts. If you like to hang out in coffee shops, Homage Bakery, Bibo Coffee, Hub Coffee, or Walden's Coffeehouse are a few cool spots. In the summer, there is a weekly event called Reno Food Truck Fridays for you to taste some amazing delectable treats offered by some of Reno's local chefs. Oh yeah, don't forget the monthly wine walks, bar crawls, and themed bar crawls (e.g., Zombie Crawl). This is only the beginning. If you are looking for something to do, the Reno-Tahoe website is a great place to find what's happening in Reno. Also, check out some of the other articles on this webpage. They have great suggestions!              

Throughout all of this, especially in your personal life, it's important to be mindful, or present, in these activities. Too often when we are trying to do something fun, we start to think about everything else in our life, particularly school related, that needs to be accomplished. Then we get anxious and end up not having a good time. Try to be present! Tell yourself that you deserve to have a good time and that it's worth finding and enjoying positive experiences outside of work. That's it.    

Enjoy yourself! 


Emerson Epstein

I am a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology Doctoral Program here at the University of Nevada, Reno. My research and clinical interests are around the cognitive and emotional factors that influence self-regulation and hence a person's sense of well-being. In my free time, I really enjoy cooking with friends, making and listening to music, riding bikes, traveling wherever I can, and anything of that sort. 

For more information please feel free to contact me 


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