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Self-Care Activities for Graduate Students & College Instructors

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There are about four weeks left in the fall semester, which means times of epic stress and overwhelm are likely coming up in your near future. I’ve already written one post about how to carefully plan this time in ways that account for self-care, but I thought I’d write from a different perspective this semester. There’s a short video you can watch with my six self-care activities suggestions, or you can read the quick list in this post. In any case, let’s take the time to take care of ourselves as the semester ends.

It’s All about the Self-Care!

In case you’ve decided to not watch the video, I’m breaking up today’s self-care suggestions into three categories: body, mind, and spirit. There’s plenty of overlap between categories, of course, but I thought this approach makes it easier to decide which self-care activities you want to take the time for first.


Exercise: Not an unusual suggestion, I know, but a staple of helping you stay healthy at this point of the semester. Even if it’s just stretching or a slow walk around the block, take 10-15 minutes a day to get in some exercise. Give yourself a break from the hustle and bustle. Maybe listen to one of these podcasts while you’re at it.

Eat a Healthy Meal: I find breakfast to be the easiest meal to make healthy. A yummy smoothie with fruit requires no added sugar. Some whole grain toast with peanut butter and banana would be delicious and filling. Hardboiled eggs already prepped and ready to go makes eating a good breakfast even quicker than usual. But if breakfast isn’t a meal you take the time for or give your attention to, then consider how to make or buy a healthy meal for lunch or dinner. Good, nutritious food is a great way to perk up your body when super stressed.


Meditate (or some other mindful practice): I’m still struggling to make this a habit, but I still highly suggest it as a way to calm your mind. I also love this new (free) affirmations app I just downloaded earlier this week (literally called “affirmations”). With a new affirmation to repeat each morning and during the day, I’ve been feeling more calm and confident than I have in quite a while.

Read a Fun Book: You might be swamped with academic reading at the moment because of your research and/or grading responsibilities. Treat yourself to a few chapters of a novel you’ve been wanting to read for a while. All your reading at this point of the semester doesn’t need to be for work purposes. Reward yourself for progress made with a fun read!


Brighten Up Someone’s Day: Feeling stressed, sad, frustrated, etc.? I find myself feeling more positive about life when I purposely help others feel more positive about life. So, my recommendation: Go online and compliment someone’s writing on a blog post. Read through Facebook posts or tweets of other academics and cheer them on about a draft submitted or a stack of grading done. Offer support to others who are not as far along as you in your program or career. These small moments of support can really effect the receiver of your positive energy. In turn, perhaps you’ll get your own boost in mood.

Go Out and Have Fun with Other People: Have dinner with family members who you love and really support you. Go bowling with a group of friends you haven’t seen in person for a while. Take part in a community event that sounds fun and you’ve never been to. Academia can be very isolating. Take the time to be part of a community that makes you happy, calm, excited, or whatever emotion you need to feel right now to help you get through the semester.

Productive Self-Care Pairings:

A few ideas for combining self-care activities!

Final Thoughts

These are just a few self-care ideas for anyone struggling to make time for themselves at this point of the semester. Next time, I’ll have advice on productive activities that can help you stay on track at semester’s end. Remember to check out my other self-care activities post, especially if you teach. And if you have any suggestions for self-care activities to do, I’d love for you to share them in the comments section below!

Comment Below: What are your FAVORITE self-care activities?

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Feeling stressed because of all your responsibilities as a grad student, college instructor, or teacher? Here are six ideas to help with your body, mind, and spirit self-care practice. #selfcare #gradschool


  1. nora.nordin

    I prefer to take time to catch up with friends to share and exchange everyone’s updates.

    • Erika Romero

      It’s so great to take the time to catch up! I did this exact activity recently at a “Friendsgiving.”

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