How to Show Up for Yourself in Grad School

In recent years, there has been an increase in the amount of research shared and focused on self-care. Although there are many different ways to show self-care to oneself, one of the more recent that is growing in popularity is the practice of showing up for yourself. Now, what exactly does it mean when one says it is important to show up for yourself? Wellness and lifestyle podcaster Arielle Lorre defines showing up for yourself as “another way of saying loving yourself, honoring yourself, and being your own biggest supporter.” In addition, it is the conscious act of making yourself and your needs priority, which includes mental, emotional, or physical needs. Lorre states that showing up for yourself is of one the most important forms of self-care, as she states “unless you show up for yourself, you can’t fully show up for anyone or anything else.”

Showing up for yourself involves actions that support yourself, which involves making decisions that benefit your well-being overall. Although the idea of practicing this form of self-care is a positive concept, it is sometimes difficult to envision how we can implement it within our own lives. Below I have provided a list of different ways students can practice showing up for themselves in grad school. A quick reminder that these are only suggestions, and that you should show up for yourself in whatever ways you feel are best for you!

1. It is more than okay to say no.

Saying no to a social event or a work opportunity can be incredibly difficult, as you can feel like you are not only letting others down, but potentially missing out on a social or professional experience. However, it is important that you make time for yourself and to recognize and honor your limits. Remember that your needs are just as important as others, and that by allowing yourself to establish and honor your boundaries, you are creating more time and energy for other projects and opportunities.

2. Commit to yourself.

At the beginning of the semester, it is so easy to fall out of new routines in an effort to have just 5 (then 10, then 20,) more minutes of sleep, or by accidentally over scheduling yourself and not allowing for enough time to complete the assignments/research that you need to, which then inadvertently pushes you behind schedule. One way to keep up with these routines that make time for both work and play is to block out specific hours of your day that are solely dedicated to something. This could be your research, journaling, napping, socializing, whatever it is that you feel you need to prioritize and accomplish each day. Another way is to commit to a daily routine. This could include waking up and going to bed at the same time each day, cooking and eating at the same time each day, following a morning or nighttime routine, working on a different creative project each day, and so many other different options. By making time for the things that are important to you each day, even if it’s only for 15 minutes, this consistency is a way of showing up for yourself.

3. Acknowledge your feelings.

Being aware and accepting of your emotions is another way you can show up for yourself, as acknowledging how you feel in certain situations can have a positive impact.  Showing up for yourself in this way allows you to both avoid situations that make you feel uncomfortable or insecure about yourself and continue to show up those that make you feel confident and appreciated. Practicing the acknowledgement of your feelings also allows you to frequently check in with yourself, which encourages reflection both in and outside the classroom and avoids the suppression of emotion and the procrastination or research and homework.

4.Speak up for yourself.

It can be hard to voice your opinions or disagreements with someone in the classroom or in the workplace. However, standing up for yourself and your ideas is an important way to show up for yourself, as it proves to yourself that you deserve to be taken seriously and that your perspective matters.

5. Celebrate yourself.

Finally, one of the most important ways that you can show up for yourself is by celebrating yourself. This includes celebrating your accomplishments, expressing yourself in the way you want to, and acknowledging all the hard work you have done to get you this far. Although there is a mix of good day and bad days in graduate education, at the end of the day it is important to remind yourself that you will continue to grow each day as both a graduate and lifelong learner, and that accepting who you are is just one way of believing in yourself.

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