210: Wellness in Small Doses: Why Busy Students Need Micro Self-Care

210: Wellness in Small Doses: Why Busy Students Need Micro Self-Care

In this solo episode, I focus on the topic of micro self-care and why self-care is especially important during busy seasons, like the fall term. I share more about my personal experience with chronic illness and why self-care is a necessity for me. I define micro self-care and share examples of what this can look like. I also share some resources for you to learn more about micro self-care and resting to identify practices that work best for you.  Sign up⁠⁠⁠ for my group coaching program to start working on your personal growth and gain sustainable productivity skills. 

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*The Grad School Femtoring Podcast is for educational purposes only and not intended to be a substitute for therapy or other professional services.*


Dra. Yvette Martinez-Vu 0:02

Welcome back, everyone to another episode of the Grad School Femtoring podcast. This is your host, Doctora Yvette. Today, I have a short and sweet solo episode for you all about micro forms of self care, I thought I'd mentioned micro forms of care because in I think that I've covered the topic of self care to some degree on the podcast. I haven't covered it recently and it is something that comes up a lot in my one on one sessions. And also in my Grad School Femtoring Academy. There's a whole session dedicated to community forms of care and self care.

And one of the concepts that I introduce in both the Academy and also with my clients is this concept of micro care. And I bring it up because this is the fall term, it can be a very, very busy season. For me, personally, it's a very busy season, I have a lot of things that come up this time of year, from birthdays, to holidays to the grad school application season. So even my clientele, my speaking engagement, all of that kind of ramps up in the fall. And that makes it really, really easy for me to not take care of myself and to get sicker. And so if you know me if you know my backstory, you know that I have a series of chronic illnesses, and everything kind of hit the fan when I got COVID in fall of 2022 because I just got sicker developed a really bad health scare that actually ended up landing me in the ER and then landing me moving back from having lived abroad in Portugal to moving back to the US.

So now I'm back based in the US, I'm doing better. But I am easily susceptible to getting sick, getting flareups and becoming bed bound. I'm not going to go into the details of my health. But what I am going to share is that, you know, I need to take care of myself every single day. And I have to be very, very intentional. And it's a combination of how much I sleep. And what I eat, how much or how little I work, how much or how little I move. I actually, it's not good for me to not move enough, it's not good for me to move too much. It's not good for me to eat too little or too much of certain foods. And even with my workload, I have to pace myself. And so I found myself actually last week dealing with another flare. And I think that this must have been a combination of not eating the things that nourish me, and also an increased workload, increased stress levels, and not sleeping very well. I think all those things led to me flaring up.

Again, this reminded me like, wow, it's really imperative for me to take care of myself. And even when I get busy, I still have to carve out pockets of time to get it done to take care of myself. And for me, as someone who has to take care of myself regularly, self Care doesn't always feel good, but it is necessary. And when I talk about micro forms of care, I am talking about things that you can do in your day to day life that take no more than 10 minutes. So let's say it's five to 10 minutes. These are things that you can do every single day. These are things that should be relatively feasible or flexible for you to fit into your schedule. And sometimes they are things that you might not even think twice about that you might not acknowledge.

They're not the things that become commercialized. When we think about self care, a lot of us, the first thing that comes to mind are the things that you see in the media. What is highly commercialized? It's you know, purchasing items, whatever it is skin care or a spa day or taking a vacation. It might seem lofty, inaccessible, especially if you're from a working class or low income background. Or if you just don't feel like you have the time to carve out for these things. They yeah, they can be time intensive. And they might not be things that you're willing to do regularly and you might only do it monthly, quarterly annually. But with micro forms of care these things typically don't cost a thing, can be done relatively quickly, five to 10 minutes. You can do it every day and they add up, they accumulate over time to help you take care of yourself.

What are examples of micro forms of self care? One of the ways that I take care of myself is I actually schedule in buffer time for myself in between meetings. That's also one of the ways that I pace myself, I don't just go back to back to back, even if one of my meetings is running late. I then tell the next meeting that I'm running late, and I give myself a little bit of a buffer and a little bit of breathing room. So scheduling in a buffer between meetings, and allowing yourself to actually rest, take a break, do some deep breathing, that is a form of micro form of self care.

Another thing you can do is, is tap into your senses, especially the senses that you might notice, you might not regularly tap into. By this, I mean, get a scented candle, you know, preferably something you enjoy perhaps a scented lotion. I'm actually someone who's really sensitive to scents, in fact, the fragrants, what are the, like the non natural fragrances like colognes and perfumes, they trigger my migraines. But there are certain scents that I do find pleasing. Like essential oils, a very very toned down version of essential oils is a good scent for me or even boiling some oranges with some cinnamon, like that scent is you know, very homey for me. So find something that is scented, and focus on spending five minutes enjoying the aroma. So deep breathing, enjoying the aroma itself, it may sound silly, but it's actually it can be quite nice.

You could even develop it and turn it into a ritual where every single time you sit down to write, you are going to light that scented candle, your favorite candle. And you only get to do this at the start of your writing. Or, you know, in between a meeting you're going to put on some scented lotions, smell it, anything like that.

Another micro form of care that you might not think twice about it, maybe you're already doing this is actually reaching out to someone reach out to a friend or a loved one and let them know that you're thinking of them. A text message is really quick, yes, you might not be able to get back to them if they respond to you too quickly. But at least they know you're thinking of them. And then they'll be thinking of you. And if it's someone you love, odds are they will brighten up your day if your days already not starting out so well.

Another thing that I like to do, especially first thing in the morning, before my kids wake up is I like to slowly enjoy my beverage of choice. So my case, I am grateful I can still drink coffee and a lot of people who have different chronic illnesses who cannot drink coffee. So I do drink coffee in the morning. And I just enjoy it, I enjoy my one cup a day. And something else you could do that doesn't take up a lot of time. Sometimes it feels like it might take time but it doesn't have to take a long time is doing some reflective journaling.

So get a copy of my growth journal, I have a growth journal, it's in my shop could a gradschoolfemtoring.com/shop Yes, that's a new link that I added recently to my website. And you know the growth journal is there at a pay what you can rate so get a copy of it and start to answer some of the prompts there to do some reflective journaling. You could also, one thing that, actually I do this and some of the people I work with also do this is you can create a brag bank or you can create a folder of really nice memos that people have sent to so that way when you're feeling down, you can review it for a few minutes. If you're feeling you know like you're doubting yourself, it's nice to review it and to remind yourself that you know what I am doing great or I do have people that love me or I do have people that believe in me. It'll help to give you that confidence boost.

Now, it I could keep going on and on and on about different micro forms of self care. And one of the things that I wanted to mention is well, two things. I don't have notes for this episode, I'm just speaking off the cuff. But one thing that comes to mind when I think about micro forms of care is I think about the this whole movement of resting. And I think of the book Rest is Resistance by Tricia Hersey. If you haven't read it, or listened to it or you know, read it in an audiobook format, definitely consider carving out some time for that because it will, it may help you to go through a paradigm shift and realize, wow, I really do need to take time to slow down and rest. It is essential for our survival. But not just that, but also for thriving. So it reminds me of that.

The other thing it reminds me of, and I'm trying to remember the name of this book. I, I recall reading a book, it's actually for therapists, but I found it's really, really helpful. It's called the, there it is, the Simple Self Care for Therapists. So Simple Self Care for Therapists, Restorative Practices to Weave Through Your Workday. This is by Ashley Davis, Bush, I read this book, I think last year is when I first came, came across it and read it. And it's a it's a really straightforward book, it's literally just open it up. And it's a bunch of different strategies that you can implement to take care of yourself. She wrote it because she found having herself and a therapist working with other therapists as well that a lot of therapists are burnt out, overworked, underpaid, and don't always make time to take care of themselves. Sadly, it's so sad because so many of us rely on therapy, right, to survive.

But yeah, so therapists need support, we need support, if especially if you're in a helping profession, especially if you're someone who enjoys service work, you'd like to help others you want to take care of yourself. And if you need some ideas, maybe you need some micro forms of care, look to that book, or anything else written by that author. I believe she's the one that first introduced me to the concept of micro forms of care, specifically micro forms of self care.

I couldn't find anything when I was doing my own research on anyone writing about micro forms of community care. So how do we take care of each other in small ways. That's a whole other episode. That's not today's episode. But just know, there are micro forms of care, that are self care practices, some that are community care practices. And then of course, there are macro forms of self care, macro forms of community care, which is what we typically think of when we think about these concepts. Usually, we think about the macro and not so much the micro.

I am saying all of this not because I think that micro forms of self care are the solution to burnout, they're not. I also don't think that this is a solution to make sure that you're always taking care of yourself. No, we definitely need systemic change, we definitely need to do our own work of unlearning, colonizing, and white supremacist practices that are actually hurting us. But in the meantime, as we work on ourselves, as we pursue higher education as we work towards our careers, we as we focus on developing the career and life that we want. This is one way just to check in with yourself, see what you need, honor your needs, your physical, mental, spiritual needs, and slow down for a little bit, even if it's for five minutes a day. Slowing down helps you a lot.

I feel like I have this conception of care that is different from others because I absolutely need to do it to survive. It can be hard to like acknowledge, I don't always share all the details about living with chronic illness. But I'll tell you that, you know, a lot of my other spoonie friends, for folks who are also in this community also have chronic illnesses. It is hard to navigate this, some folks are completely bed bound, and it's not their fault. And so I'm always doing the best that I can to remain as functional as I can be. And what is helping me, everybody's different. Everybody's body mind spirit is different. But what helps me is to do these things at the micro and the macro, five to 10 minutes multiple times a day, and then also carving up bigger pockets of time for other things that I can do that are within my means and my capacity.

And my kind of care is very different from the kind of care that someone else can do. You know, my physical abilities are also different. So figure out what feels good for you. What feels good in your body? And don't treat care, don't treat rest as something that you earn. No, no, no, no, no, I was on social media. When was it yesterday, or today, I don't even remember, I have, my concept of time is a little bit mixed. But I ran into this reel of someone saying if it was another coach talking about how in a lot of their meetings with clients, I notice that individuals only take care of themselves, only reward themselves, only do things that make them happy and bring them joy, as a result of having to earn it.

You know, when your child if you grow up with parents telling you like you can't have dessert, unless you eat your dinner first. You can't do you know, go out and play unless you do your homework first, whatever the thing is, yes, you know, they're doing it out of good intentions. And I know as a parent, I'm not gonna lie, I've done that, I've done that before. But as an adult, that is not helpful anymore, you know that coping strategy may not necessarily be helpful to you, because you deserve to be happy. You deserve to live a life of joy, you deserve to take care of yourself, you deserve to rest. And you don't need to earn it. It is your right, it is your right.

And you may not feel like you can afford it because maybe you don't have the time and you don't have the money. But if you don't do it, at some point, it might catch up and you're going to be forced to. Just know I learned the hard way. Please, please, please take care of yourself. If you're in this busy season, like I am, even more of a reason to ramp it up and take care of yourself even more. Add more pockets of time. Five, 10 minutes, 15 minutes here and there. And even if things get busy, find ways that you can do less, find ways that you can well do less of the stressful things and more of the nourishing things so that way you can get through the season and still be doing well this time, you know once the next season comes up.

That is all I wanted to say for today's episode I wanted to introduce you to the concept of micro forms of self care, have you thinking about care outside of these highly commercialized notions of care, and push you, encourage you to do something to take care of yourself even right now after this episode ends. What can you do in five minutes to take care of yourself? Alright y'all, that's it for today. I will talk to you all next time.

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