Breathe: The Importance of Self-Care (Revisited)

By Sharon Fleshman

For the most part, Penn is a fast-paced place and it’s easy to pick up even more speed as the finish line (whether graduation or just the end of the semester) draws near.  Slowing down enough just to reflect on the day or think a thought through to completion can be a challenge.   In anticipation of the flurry of activity associated with this time of year – final exams, papers, job search concerns, and preparation for graduation, I have reposted some of my tips for self-care.

Begin with the basics. Eat healthy food. Get sufficient exercise and sleep. Make sure you get regular physical checkups. These steps are obviously important, but often so easy to neglect.

Debrief with others and with yourself. Process your experiences from a given day by speaking with a mentor or peer and journaling your reflections. Such debriefing can allow for shared insight and the closure to put the events of the day behind you, especially if they were stressful.

Turn down the volume. If you are especially busy with interactive classes and activities which involve a lot of conversation, winding down might mean establishing a space where there is less chatter. I’ve heard some students speak of prayer, meditation, yoga, or deep breathing as ways to do this. If you are engaged in lab research or other work that requires intense focus, taking a walk on campus for a change of scenery can replenish you.

Enjoy creativity in its many forms. Whether you are on the giving end or the receiving end, creativity can have an energizing impact. Read a novel or biography and immerse yourself in someone else’s story.  Write some poetry.  Listen to music that inspires you. Learn how to knit, crochet or quilt. Take up pottery, woodwork or photography. Check out an art exhibit at a local museum.

Maintain a solid support system. Don’t hesitate to get additional help from helping professionals, such as counselors, to address stress or any other concerns. Keep in touch with family, friends, mentors, advisors and others who have your best interest at heart. Cultivating a support system is a practice that you will need to continue beyond your time at Penn.

Author: Sharon

Sharon Fleshman is the Senior Associate Director of Career Services for students in Education, Nursing and Social Policy & Practice.