The GCSW program has never failed to emphasize the need for self- care. In 2 of my classes, I was asked to write out my self- care plan and challenged to execute it. I was also part of a video which stringed together a few commentaries by GCSW students on how we got through year 1. It is no surprise that it was only through the execution of our self- care plan which got us through the tough year. Grad school is an uphill hike for anyone who takes it on, even those who are brilliant. We are stretched for time, for energy, for assignments and for class participation. And all those readings! On top of all this, we have to fulfill internship hours while some of us also work at the same time. So I chose to write about self- care because of how pertinent it is to keep our passion burning.
Time is our most important resource. How we spend our time and what we are occupied with primarily is what we have to consider. As I looked at the time management window (what is urgent and important, urgent and not important, not urgent and important and not urgent and not important), I realized that it was critical for me to have a list of my priorities and plan for the week. We tend to get too caught up with the mountain of things we need to do, not spreading it out according to its urgency and importance. Secondly, we all have a different perception of time. We tend to keep telling ourselves, “I have no time!”. Stress abounds when we think that we have too much to do and too little time. My strategy is to have a schedule of what I will do. When the course syllabus is released, all the due dates are input into my phone calendar and I have a clear weekly schedule on the assignments that are due and tests or readings that are required. This helps me to stay on track with all that I need to do. Since my schedule is relatively fixed due to the internships and courses, I am also fully aware of the amount of free time I have. This is where I have to think about what the upcoming tasks are on my schedule and how I can plan something fun and relaxing. I have a list of activities which I like to do. My husband and I enjoy watching movies online and going to Miller outdoor theatre. We also have a strong support system within our local church community and often engage in hangouts with them. On Friday nights, we participate in the International Christian Fellowship at the University of Houston. Being International students, we wanted to be part of an international community in Houston too. We have made some solid friendships and also been on some retreats and camps with them. I also have a few close friends from the GCSW and we find time to enjoy what Houston has to offer. I love to dance and this is something I have committed to every Thursday night as part of my church dance team. Exercise helps me to keep fit and healthy, which in turn allows me to focus on all that I need to do. Traveling excites me and I’m always looking for a vacay! With all that I am committed to, I chose the activities which constitute part of my self- care plan. Everything else I can do will depend on my interests and in my desire to build relationships with people. It is thus, significantly important to ensure that we have a holistic, well rounded lifestyle which constitutes more than school. Social Work affects one deeply and intimately, with our core beings being shaken by the stories we hear, the barriers we see and the injustice we battle with. We talk about coping skills with our clients, it is thus important for us to cope with our tool bag of things we can use to manage. I like the usage of the DBT acronym, IMPROVE through the usage of Imagery, Meaning, Prayer, Relaxation, One thing at a time, Vacation, Encouragement.
In order to sustain in the long run, we need to take care of our body, soul, mind, spirit and ensure that we are taking care of ourselves first before we can take care of others.
Written by: Sujeeta E. Menon-Anand, 2nd year clinical student