Before attending Southwestern College, self-care was a weekend activity or something to do after all my priorities were completed. It was a luxury to have time for self care.
My first class at Southwestern was Psychology of Altruism: Fundamentals of Helping Relationships. This course explored the balance of service and self-care. It wasn’t until then that I realized I was truly not prioritizing myself and my mental health.
Along with being a full time student, I work part time and manage multiple relationships in my life like being a daughter, sister, and aunt. But when school and work take up most of your life, it is very easy to let go of these important relationships and yourself. Throughout my first year at Southwestern, here is how my idea of self care has changed and how I prioritize it daily.
Burnout can happen quickly on a go-go-mindset. Create a healthy mindset through mindfulness practices. Keeping a writing journal or a sketchbook for personal reflection, gratitude, or positive affirmations. Taking a step away from the screens and social media to give your mind and eyes a reset.
Daily stressors, no matter how small, can accumulate and contribute to burnout. Creating healthy coping strategies helps with healthy emotional expression to take care of your heart from these daily stressors. Grad school is a big adjustment, it is important to have a good support system to talk to.
Sitting in front of a screen for hours on end is a strain on our body. Southwestern has taught me many somatic practices to create a mindful connection between mind and body. Take 5 minutes out of your day to walk around, stretch your body, meditate, or do some breathwork to feel grounded again! As a night owl, I was not noticing how my sleep schedule was affecting my productivity. Getting enough sleep daily can avoid a foggy, restless, negative mindset for the day.
Finding new hobbies as an adult can be difficult if we believe we do not have enough time. Hobbies and new activities give life some excitement! It is never too late to try something or change our routine. These little changes can be like reading before bed, taking a relaxing bubble bath, cooking a new recipe to share with friends, or trying out a new art medium!
Building a community can be hard in a distance learning setting. I expanded my community by sharing my hobbies and activities with others . I have an art community formed through my work in my pottery studio, I belong to a book club and I connect with others at the gym! My community at Southwestern is a very special one. I have met many people from different states in all the courses I’ve taken at Southwestern. Living a shared experience and learning alongside them has created an amazing bond. I have even met other Southwestern students that live in my own state. Although Southwestern is in New Mexico I have connected with students who live a lot closer to me and that has been meaningful.
Before, self-care was a luxury. I have learned that self-care is a daily practice that manifests into self love. These daily practices can be applied to any profession or personal effectiveness to reduce stress and enhance our well-being.
Mariana Leon is a distance student in the MA in Art Therapy/Counseling program