“You are not a brain on a stick”

This week, we have a guest post from Dr. Kristen Gray! Dr. Gray is the director of Counseling and Psychological Services here at Hope College, as well as a teaching faculty member for the Phelps Scholars Program. With decades of clinical experience, Dr. Gray has 

Self-care is mostly about doing a few simple things – sadly, most people find those simple things to be rather difficult to do. Despite that, consider giving a few of these a try.

Since you, as a human, are more than just a brain on a stick, focusing on academics all day every day, as well as into the early hours of the morning is not a great idea. To be at your best and function fully as a thinking, feeling and breathing human, you might consider getting close to 8 hours of sleep, during the dark, and at about the same time every day. Regular and plentiful sleep aids in focus and memory and moods!

And when you are not sleeping, try moving. Movement is a wonderful way to care for you because it can decrease feelings of anxiety. Try this: grab a friend and walk to Eighth Street, walk all the way down to the Police station – wave at the dark windows on the lower level (it’s where the gym is located and there could be police working out), turn around and walk all the back to campus. This should take about 15-20 minutes and is the perfect walk to relax and have a pleasant chat with a friend. If no friend is available, then enjoy the window shopping and find out if you get a free donut at Cranes Bakery!

Here’s a quick word on being over-committed: do not say yes to anything! It’s time to scale back on all the things you have agreed to do and focus on what you need. And by need, I mean scheduled and plentiful study time, adequate sleep (see the paragraph above), time to be with friends, and even some quiet time. Being over-committed does not help anyone since it means everything you do get a little bit less of you and your energy than it really needs. So say good-bye to something!

One last tip: breathe. Take just 5 minutes a day to sit quietly and breathe. Or sit quietly to pray. Or sit quietly to journal and reflect.

So there you have it: sleep, move, say no, and be quiet. You’ll be feeling better in no time.

Have a question you want to ask, or a topic you want to suggest? Fill out this form, or email us at presspause@hope.edu.

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