#PhDTAG: Part 2

Though today’s blog post is a continuation of this week’s #PhDTAG, today’s topic is applicable to those who don’t identify as PhD students as well.

Finding the Yin to your Yang

@jesica_sykes and @bookwormingh both asked: how do you balance a healthy lifestyle/make time for things you love to do without feeling guilty and make sure you’re getting grad work done?

Trying to find balance is something I constantly struggle with and I don’t claim to have perfected a healthy balance whatsoever. This question has pushed me to think and apply it to myself.

Define what healthy looks like for you.

Not what the internet says. Not what your mom tells you. What does it mean for you? For me, being healthy applies to the physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual, and intellectual network of my human self. To be healthy means to make continual progress in all those domains with some form of support system that feeds into this network.

Operationalize each domain.

Physical: Going to the gym in the morning really helps me start my day and get my blood flowing. I also love yoga. This also includes getting sleep, eating healthy, and drinking a lot of water.

Mental: Giving myself mental breaks to focus on things other than the larger stressors in my life (which are primarily school related) allows me to give my mind to take a breath. Whether it’s watching Netflix, reading just a few pages from a book I’ve been wanting to read, or writing a blog post 😉

Emotional: This is hard for me because I have a habit of suppressing my emotions. Journaling and talking to people I trust can help me depending on the situation.

Social: Friends. Family. Pets. Social groups or clubs.

{Edit}: My main form of social interaction includes grabbing lunch or dinner with my cohort members. About once every month or two months, a few of us get together to drink wine, complain about life, get nerdy about public health, watch Black Mirror, and then complain about the next project or paper we have to do. I do wish I had a dog, though.

Spiritual: This domain has been a rough spot for me. I grew up always having a church community. However, for various reasons, it has been incredibly difficult for me to find myself a community within this domain for the past 7 years.

Intellectual: By default, this domain is stimulated by the fact that I am a PhD student.

Take responsibility. 

The other day, my partner and I got into a lively discussion about what it means to “make each other happy.” For me, I don’t expect him to make me happy and I don’t expect me to make him happy. Does this mean we don’t do things for each other out of love and appreciation? Of course not! But it means that I need to own my self and be proud. My happiness does not depend on his ability to make it happen. In a similar way, balancing a healthy lifestyle does not depend on someone else to make it happen for me.

I don’t have a solution or a step-by-step process for you, because the truth of the matter is that I don’t know. All I know is that maintaining a healthy balance means knowing myself, taking responsibility for it, and learning to relinquish what is not realistic for me to accomplish right now. I frequently find myself struggling to find balance or not having enough time to do what I love because I am spreading myself thin, or putting too much into only one or two important domains of my life. At the current moment, my social domain faces the most deficit and one of the ways I chose to operationalize it is by joining the blogging community.

Be a Potato and Leave it Be

@selenabanana asked: What do you when you just feel like crawling in bed and don’t want to do anything, you feel like you’re not making any progress, and you just want to curl up in bed?

This question also relates to the feeling of guilt mentioned by @bookwormingh above.

IMG_7875

This is a good and very important question. Honestly, there are times when I feel this way, then feel really bad about feeling this way, then try to find some way to feel productive…but I end up wasting time doing something else and then end up feeling more like crap for wasting time. (Raise your hand if you’re in the same boat).

Over the past year-ish, I’ve realized that if I come to that point, it’s my mind and body’s way of communicating to me that I need to give myself a break. So, when I do feel this way (and I do like every week), it helps that I first acknowledge that I feel like a piece of crap. I then give myself verbal permission (literally tell yourself) to feel okay about being tired, unmotivated, anxious, and apathetic.

I don’t know what it is about giving myself permission and acknowledging that it’s okay, but if I want to curl up in bed I do it because only then do I know that I needed it.

I know that I have high expectations for myself so when I give myself the permission to just take a day off to be a potato in bed- I just do it. I know in the back of my mind that I’ll eventually have to get it done. Oh, and the guilt? She’s there too, whispering in my ear. But my word takes priority over hers so guilt can go suck it while I take the next few moments to curl up, cry, and take a nap. Because I don’t need guilt to tell me that I need to get work done. My forgiving, loving, gracious self is a QUEEN and she’ll tell me to get  back to work eventually.

Keep fighting, my friends.

Be sure to subscribe and follow me on IG: @sujanee

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