A bit of positiviTee

By Tiara (Tee) V. Hinton, Ph.D. student in pharmaceutical sciences

Celebrating my 25th birthday at the MGM National Harbor.

Writing about prioritizing mental health when feeling stressed is no easy feat; but this is my truth. Rule #1 – take a minute to reflect.

In a perfect world, I would have all the time in the world to do all of the things. In our world that is not the case, BUT I must remember that to succeed at anything, I must prioritize myself. I am a fourth year Ph.D. candidate, a little way from home, and as graduation approaches, there are several ways I avoid burnout.

1. “These are a few of my favorite things”

Every year or so, I pick up a new hobby or skill. Painting took precedence in 2020 and in 2021, I bought my first pair of roller skates. Both activities put me in a space where I am present in the moment, where I can just exist. Learning to skate at the RollerCade has been a highlight of the past few months. RollerCade embraced me as family and became an oasis after a long day. Not only is roller skating a new favorite thing, I also get a good workout while having fun.

2. Talk to me nice

The way I talk to myself is important. I had to change the way I think and react after making a mistake or feeling unsettled. Phrases like “my life is stressful,” changed to “this is a stressful moment, but I will get through this.” Feeding myself unhelpful thoughts only clouds my judgment. So, I talk to myself the same way I would speak to someone else I love – with kindness and compassion. We are our own “Reviewer #2”, but we must give ourselves grace.

3. “I’d like to phone a friend”

Note to self – there are people in your corner. Graduate school can feel like an isolating time – but it doesn’t have to be. Letting people in and talking to my family and closest friends has helped ease some of my anxiety and uncertainty. We all go through challenges, but we do not have to do them alone. Gaining new perspectives on my experiences has made a world of difference in many cases.

4. Find your peace

While art and skating bring me a sense of peace, sometimes sitting in a quiet place or listening to classical music does the trick. Prioritizing mental health comes in a variety of flavors – find what works for you. What brings you peace? Where do you take solace? And Rule #2 – write it down. Add it to your schedule or planner. You are as important (if not more) than that meeting or deadline – add yourself to the list. Trying to force your body to do something it has respectfully declined is futile.

So, breathe, and remember, you’re doing great.

In whatever you do, exist loudly.

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