Graduate School is synonymous with one of those crazy fun (but also terrifying) roller coasters that knocks the wind out of you while you’re on it, but as you get off you immediately crave more—more knowledge, more time with your peers, and more (let’s be honest) free food. We’re at that mid-point time during the semester where papers seem to pile up, readings feel like they never end, and free time is more of a distant memory.
In addition to the demands of school, many students’ stress level can be affected even more by family expectations, financial concerns, identity, mental health, and the general woes of adjustment. Consequently, it’s always important to ensure that we are caring for our most valuable asset, ourselves. Luckily, there are many ways to engage in self-care practices at Harvard that don’t require a huge time commitment and address the many facets of identity.
Below are some ideas and resources for engaging in self-care, while also rockin’ graduate school.
Find an affinity group
HGSE has plenty of ways to get involved and build support networks. Don’t do everything, but do something. I’m currently one of the Co-Chairs for the Native American student group, FIERCE (Future Indigenous Educators Resisting Colonial Education). Although that adds a little more to my plate, it’s an extraordinary way to decompress and do work that is meaningful to me and my own identity.
(See a list of recognized organizations here: http://osa.gse.harvard.edu/currently-recognized-organizations)
Four words– Barre at the MAC. But, if those four words don’t make you want to dust off your workout gear, Harvard has plenty of resources to stay active that you can take advantage of as an HGSE student.
Harvard Recreation: http://recreation.gocrimson.com/recreation/membership/graduate
Basically, the possibilities are endless.
- Adult Coloring Books
If you’ve yet to explore this world, I highly recommend it.
Getting started: http://cw.uhs.harvard.edu/mindfulness/index.html
- Put down social media
Seriously, you do not need to watch yet another Facebook video of someone getting killed or read everyone and their dog’s political opinions. A little break from screen time in general can be good for the soul.
- Keep track of compliments
When someone gives you a compliment, write it in a journal or keep it in your notes on your phone—when you’re having a hard day, re-read them.
- Admit when you need help
Go to office hours, make that writing center or research librarian appointment, or go talk to someone about the non-academic things you are struggling with. There is no shame in admitting you don’t have it all figured out.
Help with that paper: https://www.gse.harvard.edu/library/services
When you need someone to talk to: https://huhs.harvard.edu/services/counseling-and-mental-health
At the end of the day, HGSE is a mind-blowing and wonderful experience–one that is worth the endless reading, midterm papers, and rapid growth. However, learning to change the world requires attention to your own needs and limitations as well.
Kaci McClure is a Master’s of Education candidate in the Language and Literacy program. Her primary passions are increasing literacy skills among high school students; addressing inequity in low-income, largely minority schools; and culturally responsive teaching. A transplant out of Louisiana who originally hails from Texas, Kaci has an affinity for sweet tea, spicy food, and the word “y’all.” She’s also an avid supporter of conscious rap and frybread, neither correlated to the other but both very powerful.