Maybe it’s just first-week-back blues, but I often get kind of beaten down with the idea that I’m in the middle of a years-long program where I’m constantly stressed and even when I do relax I feel guilt for not doing anything productive.

I’m on an assistantship so I can afford to live, and I’m in a program where courses assign hundreds of pages of reading per week each. Combining that with lesson planning, grading, and teaching, I basically have no downtime whatsoever for an entire semester at a time, and even when I do, I ought to spend it doing things that need to be done like cleaning or laundry. I often find myself way too exhausted to do even simple things I enjoy like cooking or reading for pleasure. I don’t have time or money to do things I want to do like travel or go to a show I’d love to see.

Basically it just feels like a relentless and constant cycle of things that need to be done, a lot of which require intense intellectual labor, with basically no reprieve or time to “live my life” or focus on myself.

Don’t get me wrong, I like my field. I’ve been depressed before, so I know this isn’t what’s going on either. I’m just really tired and this grueling grad lifestyle doesn’t seem to let up, and I hate that by the time it’s over most of my twenties will have passed by as a blur of stress.

Does anyone have any tips for coping with this feeling or not getting bogged down in it?