Unsolicited self care advice

I’ve been battling “impostor syndrome” feelings lately, and instead of wallowing, I’m going to try to remember all of the things that I have built into my life to support a healthy mental state. Maybe these ideas will be helpful for other grad students and recent post-docs. The general theme is “priorities.” And I welcome any other ideas that you all may have!

– For a long time, I was hard on myself for not “figuring things out sooner” – I would make some organizational breakthrough or find a new strategy to do something and be frustrated that I hadn’t figured it out sooner. But a friend once told me that as challenges come up or accumulate, different than they were before, you have to find new solutions. There is no way to know ahead of time what new solution is needed.

– As my cohort has graduated and moved away, I don’t have a network of support like I used to. So we have maintained a virtual writing group – we put in our goals every week and add comments to each other, commiserating, celebrating, etc. It’s great to keep in touch with the people who really know “where we all came from.”

– Meditation – a friend posted on Facebook that the app “Headspace” was really helping her so I tried it. This has made a huge difference in my life. Different “packs” to address different things- anxiety, relationships, productivity, etc. It’s all focused on training your brain to let go of thoughts without judgement – basically really understanding that every little negative thought that floats through your brain does not need to affect you.

– Yoga/exercise. I bought running shoes and signed up for a few 5ks to motivate myself to get regular exercise. Now that it’s more of a habit, I realize I don’t have to pay someone to run around 🙂 I also really like Yoga with Adrienne series- she’s very good about encouraging you to being ok with where you are at that moment, regardless of where you were before. https://www.youtube.com/user/yogawithadriene

– Establish habits. It’s funny which books really have an effect on your life. The habits book really inspired me to build a more regular schedule- going to sleep and waking up at the same time every day for one – not easy with field work/lab work/life stuff. https://www.amazon.com/Power-Habit-What-Life-Business/dp/081298160X/ref=sr_1_3?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1523792869&sr=1-3&keywords=habits

– I like to go to conferences – it is productive and refreshes me. It works well for me because I generally just like talking to new people.

– Writing book – I took a writing class that had this book as a required reading. It finally made sense as to why people told me that my writing was unclear, even though I knew my writing was generally technically correct. https://www.amazon.com/Style-Lessons-Clarity-Grace-11th/dp/0321898680/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_14_img_2?_encoding=UTF8&psc=1&refRID=662N6DKQG73056G3M2M1

– You Need a Budget App – I’ve always had a lot of anxiety around money and that was exacerbated by feeling out of control – This program allows me to track spending on my phone, and (the theme of this post) prioritize spending and saving for different goals. Also, I feel like no one tells grad students that they should be saving, even a little bit, for retirement. I’m not a financial planner but a Roth IRA is easy and it makes me feel better knowing that I’m doing for my future.

– As my partner and I have increased our incomes, a few other things have made our lives/relationship better but would certainly be the first things to drop out when money is tight. We get a meal delivery service (Blue Apron, but there are others) so we spend more time together, not trying to decide who will decide what we eat, who will cook, who will clean. It gives us more quality time as we prepare meals together. Tangentially, we occasionally hire a house cleaning service, even though our house is small and I feel uncomfortable not “taking care of my own stuff.” But there’s things that we just don’t like (no one likes to clean the shower). So we’re prioritizing our time/money to enhance our quality of life.


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