Finding peace in the everyday little things
This essay written by Isabella Warmbrunn, a student in basic medical sciences, is part of a series featuring graduate ambassadors' approaches to maintaining their mental wellness and prioritizing their self-care.
As a second-year graduate student, I learned early on that neglecting my mental wellness would only serve to hinder me in the long-term. Ignoring cues from my mind and body that I need a break are no longer my norm.
It began when I started prioritizing my mental wellness daily in accomplishable self-care tasks. Doing something as small as listening to my favorite album (currently Nectar by Joji) or making myself ginger tea with honey were simple acts I added easily into my routine. They allowed me to focus on enjoying that one thing and improved my mood significantly. Instead of focusing on everything around me, I gave myself space to just feel calm and happy.
When I feel particularly overwhelmed, I turn to my favorite form of self-care: checking in on my plants! Ever since I was a kid, I loved helping my Oma in the garden or taking care of houseplants inside. Currently, I have assimilated quite the collection of houseplants—at 15 now—and plan to continue to add to that number. Something about seeing my plants grow and flourish is so rewarding to see! Being able to spend 30 minutes watering and checking them always relaxes me after a difficult moment or day.
So, I would say finding something that brings you happiness is the first step to prioritizing your mental health, then knowing when to implement is the second. That second step can be the hardest; I can give some insight on how I know when to stop and practice some self-care. Whenever I start to feel overwhelmed with daily tasks, I stop and take a step back. This usually is just half an hour, or an hour to allow myself time to change gears and do some self-care. After I practice some self-care, I usually can return to my tasks and be productive the remainder of the day. Something as simple as that allows me to recharge my mind and give me the energy I need to finish my day strong!
The one thing that has never worked for me was ignoring my signs of burnout and stress. Telling myself to just push through the day and “I can relax when I finish this project/assignment” resulted in higher stress and anxiety. So, I have learned to recognize my unique signs of burnout and that has helped tremendously.
Starting self-care and taking time for yourself may seem impossible given our busy lives. But I want to remind you this is to benefit you in the long run; so you can accomplish all the amazing things you have planned! I also want you to be patient with yourself, finding what form of self-care works for you may take some time. Remind yourself daily that you are amazing and doing the best you can given YOUR circumstances.