You’ve probably heard about self-care – it’s a common buzzword these days. At its most basic, self-care is simply taking care of yourself – both your body and mind. You don’t need anything special to practice self-care, and you definitely don’t need to spend a lot of money. As a grad student, you have a lot going on – writing your dissertation, doing research, catching up on schoolwork – and you might also be trying to balance your job and family responsibilities, as well. We know it can be tricky, and often it can feel like there simply aren’t enough hours in the day – which is why self-care is even more important. In order to handle everything that life throws at you, you need to be strong and refreshed for it. You can’t pour from an empty cup. It’s kind of like what you’re told on an airplane, when they go over the emergency procedures: in the event of an emergency, make sure to fasten your oxygen mask first, and then help others. If you’re not taken care of, you won’t be able to do much – or do it well, at least.
Self-care isn’t a one-time thing; it’s a daily practice, in a variety of ways, no matter how small. As with any habit, the more you do it, the easier it gets. The good news is that there are plenty of self-care practices that don’t take up a lot of time and can help with stress reduction.
Hiring a professional editor to help with your thesis or dissertation is one way to cut down on stress. Here at Dissertation Editor, we also provide dissertation coaching and consultation services, which can assist you in developing a plan for research and writing, to further help you get organized and reduce your stress or anxiety about your project.
Here are 12 more things you can do to take care of yourself:
Take 5 or 10 minutes out of your day (on a nice day) and go outside to watch the clouds. Lay on the grass (or sit on your stoop) and simply pay attention to the clouds and relax.
Do one minute of deep breathing, focusing on your breath; the way it goes in and out, how your body moves with your breath, and slow, deliberate breathing.
Try to do one thing each day just because it makes you happy: buy your favorite coffee, watch a favorite show, dance around to your favorite song, take a nap – whatever brings you joy.
Take a social media break for one day each week. In that same vein, mute or unfollow negative, aggressive people if they stress you out.
Drink plenty of water! Hydration is necessary for good health, and if you’re dehydrated, you might have trouble concentrating and feel fatigued. Keep a water bottle near you during the day that you can sip from often. If you find water too bland, try coconut water or flavored seltzers. Remember, caffeine dehydrates, so be mindful of your coffee/soda intake, too.
Wear your favorite piece of clothing and appreciate how good it makes you feel.
Laugh! Watch a funny show or read some comics, or catch up with a good friend.
Do something nice for someone: hold the door, help someone with their bags, or just smile and say hello to a stranger.
If you need help with something, ask. Many times, we don’t reach out for help when we need it. It’s okay to ask for – and receive – help.
Eat a healthy, balanced diet and get enough sleep. When we’re stressed or overtired, we often reach for more caffeine or sugar or snacks, which can just cause us to crash later on. Take a look at your food choices, and make sure you’re getting enough fruits, vegetables, and protein. It’s tempting to slug back some soda or coffee and pull an all-nighter to do more work, but it’s also really important to get sleep.
Move! Get up from your chair at least once an hour; walk around the house, office, or block. Take a walk during your lunch or when you get home from work. Regular exercise is good for your body, can be a potent stress reliever, and even helps you sleep better at night.
Be with people. While working on your dissertation – or even when bogged down with life or work – it can be easy to isolate yourself. Make a deliberate effort to meet a friend for coffee or a meal, or at the very least, simply get out of the house and do your work in a cafe.