UW Graduate School

February 9, 2017

It’s a Long Road: Take Care of Yourself

Winter quarter is often a time when energy can get low and isolation can get more intense. This year especially there are more events and unknowns that can add to the already high anxiety of being a postdoc. At the Office of Postdoctoral Affairs, along with Core Programs in the Graduate School, we’ve been pulling together tips that we hear about and continue to practice ourselves. Here are just a few insights to share:

Resilience. These times, and this work, require resilience—and this means investing in yourself and those practices that fuel you.

Beyond “Self-Care.” We often talk about self-care, yet we can also work toward “communities of caring.” Those are acts of self-care that involve connecting with others, finding ways to reach into your network rather than merely escaping.

Get What You Need. Ask for support, ask for an extension, practice asking for what you need with trusted allies.  That said, there are times to escape.  Take a social media holiday, embrace solitude and quiet, completely let go into a Netflix moment, or whatever allows you to unplug. Pay attention to activities that calm you, restore you, re-energize you, and remind you why you are doing the work you do.  We all need some of each.

Be (Self) Forgiving. And be gentle with yourself, and others.  Everyone is tired, stressed and stretched at varying levels and for different reasons.  We will each make mis-steps. Acknowledge your own limitations — and those of others — and give yourself a generous read with compassion.

Keep It Real. Finally, you need to give yourself room to feel the full spectrum of emotions like anger, frustration, overwhelmed-ness, fear. Yet staying triggered in these states can exhaust and deplete you.  Work with trusted friends to vent and then identify ways to move forward that work for you.

At a January event with First Gen graduate students, staff, and faculty — people who are the first in their immediate families to earn undergraduate degrees and who are now working on obtaining (or have obtained) advanced degrees — brainstormed ways to do more to invest in ourselves and each other. We share these concrete practices here with you in hopes they might inspire a new commitment of your own!

  • Be okay with stepping back & saying no – you deserve space and time too
  • Embrace a guilt-free mind when it comes to self-care
  • Give time over to you: take a spa day, join a team, play video games, balance your finances, journal, get exercise….
  • Put yourself on your calendar so it happens!
  • Reach out to your community — inside and outside of your research group
  • Hold each other accountable to self-care practices
  • Reach out to mentors and advisors
  • Go out and be politically active on issues that are important to you

Caring doesn’t have a to be a big project.  It can be as simple as checking in with someone and asking how they’re doing (for real).


And check out these additional resources for more ideas: