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By Holly Sawyer, PhD
Graduate Student Committee North Atlantic Region Student Liaison
Grand Canyon University

As graduate counseling students, we learn about self-care for professional counselors. 
But do you currently practice self-care? Graduate students typically have paid jobs, families, and other responsibilities—in addition to school—that require a lot of time. 

To fit everything in, something has to give. Unfortunately, the something that we neglect is often ourselves. But tempting as it is, skipping self-care is not a strategy for success. 

When our time management is not at its peak, we can become overwhelmed and eventually burn out.

Self-care is not an option as a professional in counseling; it is mandated. As graduate students, we should address all areas of our personal lives—physical, spiritual, emotional, and social. In particular, when applying self-care strategies, we need to be mindful of awareness, balance, and connection.

Here are some strategies for self-care:

  • Assess yourself for burnout, and be aware of the signs that show you when you need to apply some self-care.  
  • Next, reach out to others for help. Build a connection or network of other students for support as well as professionals who can also offer prevention and intervention strategies for self-care.
  • Also, try incorporating any form of physical fitness into your week.
  • Rest is always good, although it can be hard to slow down or take a break from trying to cross off items on our lengthy to-do lists.
  • Do not be afraid to set boundaries and say “no.” Sometimes, you will have to put your needs before others so you can be your best moving forward.

Self-care starts while you are a graduate student! It’s important to form great habits—such as self-care—now, so that they will be already in place once we become practicing clinical mental health counselors.