Self-Care: Grad Student Style

We've almost made it – fall break is next week! Two days of no class are in sight! For busy graduate students, nothing says “relief” quite a couple days off. But grad school can be busy and stressful. How do we make it to fall break (and, for that matter, to every other break) in one piece?

Self-care might sound silly, but it’s SO IMPORTANT when you’re in a helping profession (as all School of Education students are). Here are some of my personal favorite ways to take a break and focus on myself:

- Take Gracie the Dog on a walk. She gets some much-needed exercise and smelling-every-single-blade-of-grass time, and I get an excuse to spend 20 minutes outside.

-  Read for fun. Admittedly, this usually only happens right before I fall asleep at night… but hey, five pages is better than no pages!

- Watch an episode of something you’ve already seen. While it can be exciting to engross yourself in the newest episode (or season) of your favorite series, I’ve found this can somewhat drain me of emotional energy. (What’s gonna happen next? Is that character about to bite it?! WHY WON’T THEY KISS ALREADY?!?) Watching something I already know and love is a good way to turn my cognition off temporarily and just relax.

- Skype with an old friend. Grad school is awesome in that you make friends quickly with a bunch of people who are interested in the same things you are; we have really great communities form quickly here in the School of Ed. That being said, there’s something about catching up with someone who’s known you for a loooong time and loved you for a loooong time that is straight-up comforting.

- Dance it out. I’ve dragged multiple friends to Cardio Dance Party class at the W&M Campus Recreation Center, and let me tell ya, it is a WORKOUT! It’s even more effective because my friends and I end up laughing the whole time – pretty great for our abs! Impromptu dance parties also break out in my apartment at least once a week. There’s nothing that brings roommates together quite like trying to reenact High School Musical’s greatest hits, replete with off-key singing and cheesy dance moves.

- Break out the coloring books. Yes, I’m serious. Yes, I know adult coloring books are kind of having their moment now. No, I’ll never stop coloring, even when the trend dies. #nevergrowup

- Ask for help. Now, I recognize that this is probably the most difficult self-care item on the list, and I’ll own up to the fact that I completely struggle with it. But I’ve found that the W&M community (and the Williamsburg community in general) are people who WANT to help. No one gets through this world alone, and asking your neighbor to cover your babysitting shift or asking a classmate to help you understand that statistical concept isn’t a sign of weakness – it’s a sign of a strong community.

- Sleep. Even if it means not finishing that reading (gulp) or skipping out on that party, trust me. Just do it. It works.

- ...and for those days when you're about to fall asleep at your desk and know that drinking caffeine will make you more jittery than a jitterbug, do a plank for a minute or two. I don't know why or how this works, but I swear by it! (And if you walk through the admissions office often, you'll probably catch me in action!)  :) 

Take care of yourselves, friends! And thanks for reading.