Jess Tate: The importance of self-care

By Jess Tate.  Posted July 3, 2014.

As a graduate student we have many responsibilities pertaining to our school work that make it easy to forget to take care of ourselves.  It can be hard to prioritize our personal needs when we are constantly prioritizing the next paper, project, presentation, thesis, or dissertation.  However, it is essential to prioritize self-care into our daily regimen as graduate students so that we can be effective and put our best foot forward.  Self-care can be described as a way of living that incorporates any intentional actions you take to care for your physical and mental/ emotional health.  These behaviors will assist in refreshing yourself and replenishing your personal motivation.  By becoming aware and building up a collection of self-care habits you can positively affect your quality of life today and in the future.  

Here are some examples of self-care:

Physical self-care includes any intentional actions you take to care for your physical health.

  • Eating regular healthy meals rather than fast food
  • Exercise daily, this can include for example a quick walk or participating in an intramural sport on campus
  • Get plenty of sleep
  • Go to the doctor when you are sick

Mental/emotional self care involves practices that maintain your mental strength and emotional health. 

  • Seek out counseling or psychotherapy
  • Keeping a journal to jot down thoughts or feelings
  • Meditation or relaxation exercises such as deep breathing techniques
  • Focus on nurturing relationships and/or expanding and improving your social supports

You might be wondering, “How will I have time to incorporate self-care into my daily life?”   Life goal experts suggest that you put self-care into your schedule similar to the way you put your deadlines on your calendar.  Treat self-care or leisure appointments as seriously as you would your school appointments and mark it on your calendar so that you have a sense of obligation towards your self-care endeavors.  Make self-care a priority and something that you value and plan rather than something that just happens by accident.