Tips for Coping with Stress While Pursuing Your MBA

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Different people cope in different ways. Maybe you have a mantra, prefer to close your eyes and go to your “happy place,” enjoy a long shower, settle in for a Downton Abbey marathon, zone out with an adult coloring book session or empty a bag of potato chips.

While binge-watching and binge-eating are, in the grand scheme of things, probably not very good for you, the toxins that stress injects into our systems are far worse.

Earning an MBA takes commitment, sacrifice and juggling priorities. It also requires students to cope with unfamiliar and stressful situations necessitating a coping plan of action. Whether it’s exams, job interviews or presenting your findings to corporate clients, you need to know what to do to push through and be successful.

So, how do MBA students in TCU’s Neeley School of Business cope with the stress that comes with going back to school?

Do sweat it

Silvana Gonzalez of the class of 2017 is a competitive weightlifter. To ease the pain of her supply and value chain homework, she spends “at least two hours every day” feeling the burn by concentrating on her clean and jerk.

Chris Metz, a marketing and brand management MBA in his second year of study, also recommends working up a sweat. But he prefers the informal team sports that are a tradition at TCU. “Intramurals are especially fun because they encompass lots of different ways to relieve stress while working out, blowing off steam in competition and having fun with friends,” he says.

Sleep on it

Rest can be just as important as cramming. Respect when your mind and body are exhausted and know when it’s time to take five. Even if you’re a night owl, don’t neglect to make a good six to eight hours of sleep a part of your daily regimen.

Have a laugh 

Taylor Mackay is now in his third semester of studying finance at Neeley. He copes with the stress that comes with pursuing an MBA by finding opportunities to amuse himself. One of those ways is by having a little fun at the expense of entrepreneurial culture. “This year, I co-founded a 501(c)(3) called Dragon Sharing LLC with fellow classmate and friend Colt Miranda. This company, as you may have guessed, is a take on modern-day ride-sharing apps,” he says. “As visionaries, we are able to accurately predict future trends and have become well aware of the growing demand for quick and affordable dragon transportation.”

Plan ahead  

Budget your time and dedicate a little extra effort to planning out your days and weeks to prevent becoming overwhelmed. And be flexible enough to make adjustments when what you thought were softball tosses turn out to be wicked curve balls. Don’t let the plan — and your sense of obligation to it — become a source of further stress.

Don’t pile on

Taylor, Silvana and Chris say that landing an internship during their first year as MBA students contributed a great deal of stress to their lives. “Throughout the first year you spend a lot of time focusing on class work and other school activities, but you also have to spend just as much time looking for an internship,” Chris says. “If you don’t keep a level head, you can find yourself stressing out as some of your classmates begin to land roles while you’re still looking.”

Stress thrives on stress, however. Do what you can to compartmentalize and don’t let stress in one area of your life fan the flames until they become a raging bonfire. Stamp out the little combustions before they have a chance to spread.

Zoom out

Forget the dragons for a minute. Taylor wants to remind us that perspective is important. Recommitting to your goals can help you manage the stress of wondering again why you’re putting yourself through this. “The future motivates me. I know that through my hard work and dedication during the MBA, I will be rewarded afterwards,” he says. “Building on this concept, I know that a rewarding career will not only create happiness for myself but will provide the means for Larissa (my wife) and me to raise our future family.”

Silvana has a similar take. “When I started procrastinating or deviating from my task at hand, I would go back and evaluate how what I was doing would either help or harm my future,” she says. “This made me a lot more productive and allowed me to better manage my time.”

Talk it out

Your MBA cohort is also a community. Who understands the stress you are feeling better than someone who is exposed to the same stressors you are? Chris says this sense of community is one of the strengths of TCU’s MBA program. “The environment at Neeley has also played a big role in reducing stress,” he says. “Knowing that at any time there are numerous people who you can just stop by and talk to about what’s going on. No matter whether it’s the staff in the admissions and academics office, the Graduate Career Center or the faculty, they are always willing to talk with the students and lend a helping hand.”

Being a helping hand to a colleague can be its own form of stress relief, too. Check out the list of student organizations and consider replacing those potato chips with “getting involved” in your repertoire of coping strategies.

Learn more about what makes the MBA culture at TCU unique by visiting the Neeley School of Business School website.

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