As a graduate student, bringing new self-care habits into the clinic and classroom is a great way to start your practice off on the right foot. Integrate these three habits into your life to reflect on how you treat yourself and to better prepare yourself for the work you will be doing with others.
1. Set Boundaries with Yourself
Graduate students often pile schoolwork, study time, working, and clinic into their day. By doing that, we leave less time for ourselves, our mental and physical health, social activities, and time away from school. When each aspect of your day becomes about school, it can be overwhelming, and increasingly difficult to break that cycle. Take small steps to give time back to yourself.
It is easy to say yes to everything asked of you, and sometimes it may feel like you have no other option, especially as a graduate student wanting more clinical clock hours or not wanting to disappoint others. Questions such as, “Can you take on another client?” and “Can you take my evaluation next week?” or postings such as “Student Needed for Hearing Screening” are great to say yes to occasionally for experience, but you do not need to say yes to all of them! The word “no” is a valuable tool to take pressure off your workload and give that time back to yourself.
2. Practice Self-Care
Once you have found time in your schedule for yourself, it might feel difficult to determine how to use it. For some, spending time on tasks other than clinical or class assignments can be anxiety inducing, but it’s important to fill your own cup before pouring into others. Know that your physical and mental health deserve this time so that you can be better as a clinician.
The following activities can give you a mental refresh and improve your mindset before starting a new assignment or resuming work on your research:
- Reading a (non-school related!) book
- Taking a yoga class (or finding videos you can follow on YouTube)
- Taking a walk
- Practicing deep breathing
- Cooking a meal
- Learning a new recipe
- Working out
- Repeating mantras
- Treating yourself to coffee
- Watching your favorite show
3. Reflect on Imposter Syndrome
Imposter syndrome gets the best of us during grad school. Feelings of not being as smart as others in your cohort, believing achievements happened based on luck, feeling self-doubt or low self-esteem, or criticizing and downplaying your success are all signs and symptoms of imposter syndrome.
Acknowledge the feelings you are having and investigate the root cause of them. For example, if you are comparing yourself to others, maybe you feel that way because the material is difficult. What can you do to validate your experience and give yourself praise for your achievements? Using the same example, give yourself credit for generalizing the material into the clinic and with your clients. To feel better in the future, take advantage of office hours to go over the material that is confusing to you, or set up a study group with a few peers. Chances are, they’re confused about similar parts, or can answer your questions with a different explanation (and they may be confused about another area in which you’re confident, and then you can return the favor!).
Mantras to aid in imposter syndrome:
- “I am worthy of the opportunities to come.”
- “I belong here and worked hard to get here.”
- “I am smart and deserving.”
Set yourself up for success in your future role as a practicing clinician with these three self-care habits—and be prepared to pass them forward to your future clients!