By Yue Stevenson, M.A. English
I, like many students, had a pretty rough semester this Spring. In the second semester of my time as a graduate student, I had big expectations for myself after my fall term went quite well, all things considered. That momentum quickly fell apart after Winter Break, as I pushed myself to keep with the pace I had done before, regardless of the circumstances I might have found myself in. I ended up doing better than I originally feared by the end of the semester, but I recognize now that had I focused more on self-care and being realistic with my needs as a student alongside the expectations I had academically, the past five months of classes could have been much more manageable.
Rather than looking ahead to Fall 2022 and the stressors that will come with it, I urge readers to take some time to themselves during summer break. By no means am I suggesting that people shirk the responsibilities they have, or that they aren’t planning for the future, but not every day has to be focused on your academic career, I’d like to think. You have to take care of yourself physically and mentally as a person before being a graduate student of Academia. I say this both as advice to other students in similar situations and as a reminder to myself to practice what I preach.
Currently, I have been practicing self-care by trying to undo the damage I typically do during academic terms. On any particular night during the school year, I might keep myself up until 2 or 3am, working on readings, catching up on assignments, or just overall spending time on things where it would have been wiser to get rest. I have never been a morning person, but I am trying to change that by heading to bed earlier and working on a healthy schedule that fits my class and work schedules. I’ve also been diving back into some hobbies of mine that I typically don’t have the time for when flooded with readings for class, like collecting Pokémon cards, catching up on my backlog of books to read for pleasure, or just playing games with my friends. I’m sure you can think of some unique ways that you can practice self-care in your own way! There’s no one size fits all for caring for yourself, especially when we all have our own unique, individualized situations that can cause for stress.
Indiana’s weather is always unpredictable, it seems, but heading outside for a breath of fresh air is always something I think students could do more. Whether you’re walking or biking through the Monon Trail, visiting any of the beautiful parks Indianapolis and the nearby cities have to offer, or just stepping outside for a moment to sit and feel the Sun on your skin, avoiding being cooped up can do wonders. I know we’re still in the midst of a pandemic, and I still hesitate to head out in public at times, myself, but the open greenways in Indy are plentiful, and you might discover one you’ve yet to visit!