As graduate students, we are faced with different challenges as we progress throughout our graduate careers. These challenges can be anything from troubles adapting to an ever demanding class and field schedule, to finding the time to spend with family and friends. These were the challenges I faced as a new grad student in the fall of 2011 which is why I’d like to share the things that helped me get through the process.
Foundation semester I was introduced to the term self-care. Self-care is essentially how we balance life and the different roles and stressors we face as students, spouses, significant others, siblings, and so on. It is important to find an outlet for ourselves to have some “you time” or just do the things that bring us joy. This is sometimes easier said than done, but it is possible. For me personally, it took a little while to get it right. I really struggled finding my balance between a full time job, school, a fiancé, a puppy, family and friends. It was tough.
What really helped me to start thinking about different ways to face these struggles was the self-care class offered at the GCSW by professor, Sandra Lopez. The class challenged me to put a plan together that addressed my goals, the challenges I might encounter and how I could hold myself accountable in meeting my goals. One of my biggest goals was to make more time to take care of myself mind, body & soul. I found myself always busy and overwhelmed by growing responsibilities which created less and less time for me.
What I decided to do was run once a week (Sunday, my only free day) at 7am. I started with a small goal that was realistic for my schedule and commitment. This really served several purposes for me. The run kept me motivated because I did not want to let my class group down. It also helped me distress from the busy week. Finally, running in the morning help me to be time efficient I still had the entire day to run errands and catch up on other things afterward.
Challenges still arise, but one of the biggest perks of being a student at The University of Houston’s Graduate College of Social Work is that I am surrounded by an amazing group of colleagues and professors that offer motivation daily. Making connections and joining organizations have truly helped me to know I am not alone in these struggles. You might even find that your colleagues share similar struggles and have good ideas on how to push through them.
Challenge yourself to put yourself first from time to time. It’s ok to do that. Here is a link about mindful living: http://www.livingmindfully.org, and the benefits of embracing challenges. I hope that this post helps, please feel free to email me if you have any questions or comments. Thank you for reading!