Mental Health and Self Care

Mental Health
  • Make time in your busy schedule for some form of exercise. Your university may have a free or inexpensive gym on campus. Walking or running are almost-free forms of exercise and can do wonders.

Self Care
  • Be kind to yourself.
  • Find a network of those who will support you and get you. They can make all the difference in your experience as a student in grad school, especially one that is a PWI.
  • Don't give up.
  • Listen to those who have come before you and navigated it.
  • For many of us that grew up poor, we were not able to focus on self-care. From poor diets to a lack of resources for mental/emotional health counseling, we often survived and made it through, but we carry those unhealthy habits with us in life. Before you embark on a PhD journey, take note of how you respond in situations of stress and isolation. The dissertation process especially is already inherently isolating and stressful. For those that do not know how to cope with the stress and isolation in a healthy manner, often turn to bad habits of over eating, substance abuse, self-harm, negative thoughts, depression, or other ways our feelings manifest. In order to survive the times of stress and isolation, I recommend creating a plan or at least invest time thinking about coping strategies. Many people quit or drop out because we do not know how to cope, or we make it through but develop poor habits that impact our health for years to come. Also, think about the impact on friends, family, and loved ones through this process. If you have established relationships, the dissertation journey and PhD coursework will also impact them so be aware and have those conversations before times get stressful.
  • How to look fabulous while in graduate school: luxuries like toner became impossible when I went back to school and had to scale down my expenses. Feeling gross just adds to the whole unnecessary stressful weight of grad school - it's more than just remembering to shower. Products have become are so deeply acculturated in contemporary grooming regimens that when you don't have smells, textures — even the fiction of externally-absorbed nutrients, etc. — to look forward to, it gets hard to pull yourself together. There's also this BS ethos about having to look mousy in graduate school or you won't be taken seriously - there's an obvious and irritating gendered element here. Double underline BS - when you feel good, the world is that much less chaotic all of a sudden, you perform better, and they take you more seriously because of it.
  • Your graduate school student status probably gives you access to your school's gym for free. Use your school's gym.
  • If you are fortunate enough to get a tuition waiver, you may want to look into taking a fun undergraduate class during a less hectic semester. For example, Karate, Yoga, Weigh lifting, painting, etc.
  • I discovered Pinterest early on (which has upped its secret board functionality so you can hide from the world your human-ness-need-for-drag if you like) & invested about $50 on ingredients at the beginning of my 2 year program, which I was able to have stretch throughout and then some. My regimen became simplified, inadvertently organic/all natural, and tailored specifically to my skincare needs. All plus points.
  • Some gems I've incorporated (FYI, I'm South Asian, have combination T—zone oily skin, and dry-favoring curly hair. These are just some recipes that worked for me - I advise becoming familiar with your skin before you spend any $. A lot of these ingredients can be cross-purposed for cooking or cleaning if they don't end up suiting you.):
  • 3 ingredient foaming facial cleanser:
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  • Dry shampoo:
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  • Eye cream:
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  • Rosemary-mint shaving cream:
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  • Exfoliator:
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  • Makeup removing wipes:
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  • To that effect, I've made a group Pinterest board - just follow the board and I'll add you as a collaborator:__
Favorite Tips/How Tos:
  • You can make a tub of liquid mascara or a tube of mascara stretch 1.5x the usual lifespan with a few drops of contact lens solution.
  • Jamaican castor oil scalp treatments for tension hair loss.