All posts tagged: self care

At What Point is Self-Care Toxic?

Image: Photo by Abby Breaking News: I figured out that graduate school is hard. At the point when this happened, I was facing around eleven of my classmates. I was to present an essay we read in my Contemporary African Lit. class. I had read this article maybe five times before I had a speech ready, and I was going to do this. But there was a block, and I started stumbling, and I turned red, and people jumped in to help me, and I was spiraling. Two people gave presentations after and killed it, too, so when I left I was ready to go home and eat leftovers and cry. As my friend drove me home I expressed how humiliated I had looked, and she promised it would get better. In fact, everyone has said that the first semester is very hard. They say: The first semester of graduate school is the hardest, and that’s not to say it gets easier. It doesn’t. You’ll just adjust to how difficult it is. So here I was, …

Butterfly at the Museum of Natural History. Photo Credit: Jess Silfa

On (Necessary) Self Care

When I was six years old, I started seeing a therapist. There were many reasons why I was in Doctor Davis’ care—an overactive imagination, inappropriate concern for World War III, existential dread—but the majority of our sessions revolved around relaxation. He and I played this game where we would try to relax as much as possible, calling out the names of the body parts as we felt them loosen and unwind: my neck is now relaxed, my shoulders are now relaxed, now my arms. I would never get past my knees before blurting out something like, “What if Russia invades us?” And then to lighten the mood: “Do you know how hard it is to learn Russian?” Twenty-five years later I still have trouble getting myself to relax (and surprisingly I’m still worried about Russia). I didn’t change who I was when I entered the MFA. My life didn’t get magically amazing; my insecurities didn’t disappear; my neurochemistry didn’t become more typical. But that’s me. The truth is even if you’re not mentally ill, grad school is …

4 Steps for Grad School Self-Care

Heading into my first semester of grad school, the biggest phrase I heard was “self-care.” Likewise, I had the TA opportunity of a lifetime and was given the honor of working with a freshman class, which involved as much life coaching/chatting about adulting as it did grappling with the course work. While everyone and every program are different, here’s a few thoughts/tips about getting through that semester intact. Sleep Sleep enough. We’re here to do big deep thinking. Know your magic number for sleep and do all you can to honor it. Sleep makes everything else go better. Eat Well Grad School’s intense. Figure out the pre-made foods/substances that you can grab and go and that will keep you going. My top three are: Peanut Butter, Protein Bars, and Hardboiled Eggs. Everyone has different dietary restrictions, but I found it immensely helpful to know what I could emergency pack to have food throughout the day even if I didn’t have a chance to leave the studio. While on food, bulk cook and know your breakfast. …

Kat Saunders Introduction (West Virginia University ’18)

I never used to be nervous on the first night before school started—until I began teaching. Tomorrow, I know that no matter how early to the English department office I arrive, there will still be a line at the copier. And I will still have forty-five syllabi to copy. I know that when I address my new students, my voice will crack and my hands will shake. I’ll make bad jokes. I’ll ask them to share one interesting thing they did over summer break and at least half of them will inevitably say, “nothing.” Some of my new students will hate me so much on the first day that they’ll drop the class immediately after meeting me. That’s what I tell myself even though I know that most likely their continued enrollment or un-enrollment in my class has nothing to do with me. This will be my fifth semester of teaching freshman composition and the first day never gets any easier. Tonight, more than ever, I’m reminded of the importance of self-care in graduate school. …