Oh the Importance of Self-Care

Oh the Importance of Self-Care

In many evaluations throughout my career as a PhD student, I have been given the feedback that I need to practice better self-care. I have been given suggestions as to how to have self-care, such as exercise, getting enough sleep, eating a balanced diet, doing things I enjoy, etc., etc. Now, I am going to go out on a limb here and assume that I am not the only grad student who has been told to work on their self-care, especially within the field of applied psychology.

The assumption here, based on the suggestions for self-care strategies, however, implies a deficit, or lack of skills needed to engage in self-care. No-Siry-Bob! I know exactly how to engage in self-care. I would start the morning at the spa for a 90-minute, hot stone massage, followed by an early lunch with an old friend where we would gab and catch up on the good ol’ times. After that, of course, we would go shopping. After hours of retail therapy, we would leave the mall with a handful of bags, it would be off to dinner, and, perhaps if we are not too tired from our day of relaxation we might just go dancing until the wee hours of the morning.

Obviously, I know how to plan an amazing, relaxing day full of self-care; however, when I look at my weekend schedule, I have three papers to write, a psychological report to finish, lectures to prepare, upcoming comprehensive exams, and a little thing known as a dissertation to finish. So when I hear that I need self-care, I have two reactions. My first reaction is, “Duh.” And my second is, “Maybe if I didn’t have all this work to do, I might be able to have some self-care.”

All joking aside though, self-care is in fact really important, and the sad truth is is that if you are in grad school, you will likely not have the time for self-care. Now that is not an excuse for you to abandon all efforts of taking care of yourself; rather, I am saying that you need to make time for yourself. As we often say in the helping profession, if you don’t take care of yourself, how can you take care of others?

 

 

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Comments 2

sarabrady on Monday, 25 March 2013 14:42

Thanks for the reminder! I really like you're idea of a day of self-care!! I think just spending one day every couple weeks or so to do absolutely NOTHING related to grad school (but something you enjoy) is a good idea. Self-care might even involve watching tv all day, working out (not that I do...), or picking up a hobby. Thinking about all the work that you could've been doing during that time will just make matters worse. Grad students need time to just NOT be grad students for a little while!

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Thanks for the reminder! I really like you're idea of a day of self-care!! I think just spending one day every couple weeks or so to do absolutely NOTHING related to grad school (but something you enjoy) is a good idea. Self-care might even involve watching tv all day, working out (not that I do...), or picking up a hobby. Thinking about all the work that you could've been doing during that time will just make matters worse. Grad students need time to just NOT be grad students for a little while!
zmirtsching on Wednesday, 19 June 2013 14:33

Great article! I feel this way even as an undergrad in my honors program. Sometimes there really aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. And when you have papers and projects to do that seem so much more important sometimes we do let ourselves slip.

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Great article! I feel this way even as an undergrad in my honors program. Sometimes there really aren't enough hours in the day to get everything done. And when you have papers and projects to do that seem so much more important sometimes we do let ourselves slip.

PhDStudent