I’m still trying to adjust to this new phase of my life, and with that adjustment I have been observing a few things. I remember when I did my undergrad I had a good experience, awesome friends and a lot to discover. During grad school for my master’s degree, I was able to learn a lot more about being a clinician, wrote a thesis and had good support through the professors and of course family and friends.
Now that I am pursuing a doctoral degree, I realize that some of the things that were important during my grad school experience are pretty important now. It was easy to forget these things as I have been out of the classroom for a few years. However, now that I am back to student mode, I need to tap into self care strategies just as I did when I was a clinician. Balance is very important.
I’ll share some of my essentials for surviving this doctoral program:
* Good music: I love listening to music as it is very soothing and gives me a lithe motivation. On mornings, I like starting my day off with one of my favorite songs by Jill Scott: Blessed. I am thinking of creating a few new playlists to get me going with homework.
* Strong support network: I value the relationship I have with my family and few close friends. They help to keep me focused and check in with me regularly. It’s always good to know that you have support and a listening ear when needed, even if it means seeking this outside of family and friends. Maybe going to counseling or seeking support groups might be helpful too. Don’t limit yourself when it comes to finding support.
* Exercise: No doubt about it, working out gives me an extra burst of energy and it helps me to manage stress in a healthy way. I have been playing around with a few ideas for a workout schedule, but realizing that it needs to be a lot more flexible than I originally thought. The important thing for me is that I do some form of physical activity daily.
* Yoga: I separate yoga from exercise because it means a lot more to me. I have not been maintaining my yoga practice due to my transition, but now that I am settling in, it’s back! Yoga helps me to manage stress and anxiety and adds a spiritual component for me that is also very important.
* Balanced meals: Eating healthy is important, no need for further discussion on that one.
* Time-out: All work and no play will certainly make me a dull girl. So, I have decided to give myself much needed breaks. After all, what good will I be if I keep going and not take time for myself? No good, that much I know. My goal is to have one day per week that I relax and do things that are not school related. I’m going to aim to keep this goal as best as I can. Although I plan to take the same day off each week, I will allow myself to be flexible in terms of what day I will take off if needed, that way I don’t feel too confined. Apart from that, I will take breaks during the week as well. I can take the time to enjoy a movie, go out or try something new.
A dear mentor and friend once suggested that I read 24/6 by Matthew Sleeth when I asked her about taking a time-out. I found that book very valuable as it reinforced the importance of taking time for yourself to rest and also to reflect. The author, from a christian perspective encourages his readers to use that time off to find ways to draw closer to God. In his book, he states that rest, renewal and reverence take time to develop, but one should aim at achieving these values.
“Your hand opens and closes, opens and closes. If it were always a fist or always stretched open, you would be paralysed. Your deepest presence is in every small contracting and expanding, the two as beautifully balanced and coordinated as birds’ wings.”
― Rumi, The Essential Rumi