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You Need These Strategies to Complete Your Self-care Toolkit

November 4, 2021
By GradProSkills

Source: GradProSkills

In October, we asked the question on our social media: How are you feeling these days? Forty-six percent of our followers responded and 100 percent of those expressed feelings of exhaustion and stress. Another survey about struggles to finish thesis and assignments showed a similar result.  

We want to let you know that you are not alone in having these emotions. Indeed, experiencing symptoms of seasonal sadness at this time of the year is quite common, coupled with grad school workload and layered with a pandemic.  

So, what is the solution? How can we stay grounded?  

A woman with a plain yellow background putting her hands on her heart

While your academics are extremely important, don’t forget to create time to take care of yourself. In order to figure out the appropriate self-care plan, we first need to understand what is self-care and why it is important to practice it.

What is self-care? 

Simply put, self-care is the care provided for you, by you. This includes all the actions you take intentionally and consciously to take care of your wellness, whether it be academically, socially, mentally, physically or financially.

Why is it important to practice self-care?

Feeling overwhelmed as a student is common since the demands brought about by grad school require more effort than undergraduate level. The transition can be unsettling and easily lead to imposter syndrome, low self-esteem and sense of feeling out of control. Nevertheless, practicing self-care can help avoid these issues by nourishing your wellbeing. Moreover, managing stress through self-care strategies will help you develop a healthier lifestyle in the long run!

Self-care assessment

The very first step to practice self-care is to identify what activities and thoughts are helpful and which are holding you back. Begin by asking yourself the following questions:

  • Which aspects of your life stress you out the most?
  • What are you comfortable with?
  • During a day/week when do you feel drained the most?
  • What time of the day/week do you like?
  • What type of activities make you anxious?
  • What type of activities make you reenergized?
  • What do you enjoy doing the most and least?
  • What thoughts have a negative impact on your mood?
  • With whom do you enjoy spending time?

With regard to your answers, identify the areas that stress you the least and those where you feel drained the most. For example, thinking about deadlines may make some feel anxious, while others need deadlines as a source of motivation. These questions should help you better understand the behaviors that you do that reap benefits, those that you would like to incorporate more into your everyday life, and those that you would like to minimize or eliminate. 

a happy man in front of a laptop

Self-care strategies

Now that the areas of self-care that are relevant for you are clearer, employ these strategies to make your self-care plan. You can choose 2-3 behaviors from each type of wellness to start with.

Academic/Career Wellness 
  • Take breaks during the day  
  • Take time to chat with colleagues/other students 
  • Make quiet time to complete tasks 
  • Arrange a comfortable workspace/find a study environment  
  • Have a peer support group 
  • Prioritize tasks/assignments
  • Do a little bit of work every day 
  • Regularly review notes/read textbook
Social & Cultural Wellness
  • Plan time to be with your family and friends 
  • Enjoy the time you spend with others 
  • Make time to check up on how your friends are doing?
  • Explore diversity by interacting with people of other cultures, backgrounds, and beliefs? 
  • Treat yourself and others with respect 
  • Look at situations from multiple perspectives and resolve conflicts through compromise.
Physical and Mental Wellness 
  • Don’t forget to eat regularly
  • Eat healthfully 
  • Do a bit of exercise every day: dance, swim, walk, run, play, or go to a gym
  • Take time off when sick and get medical care when needed 
  • Get a restful sleep 
  • Make time away from phones and computers
  • Have your own mental health support network
  • Allow yourself to cry 
  • Find things that make you laugh 
  • Make time for self-reflection 
Financial Wellness
  • Pay your bills on time 
  • Save a portion of your income every month 
  • Apply for awards and funding or financial aid  
  • Track your expenses 
  • When buying items, ask yourself: “DO I NEED or WANT this?” 
  • Make responsible choices when you shop 
  • Manage a monthly budget 

Need a friendly space to chat about self-care in grad school?  

Grad Chat meetings are the place to go! 

GradProSkills hosts GradChat weekly to help Concordia graduate students to one another and to be part of a friendly community. 

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