Happy Doc Student Podcast

Unleash Your Genius! The Secret of Self-Care

December 23, 2020 Heather Frederick, PhD Episode 3
Happy Doc Student Podcast
Unleash Your Genius! The Secret of Self-Care
Happy Doc Student Podcast
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Show Notes Transcript

In this show:

1.    Why self-care is so important 

2.    A new definition of self-care

3.    Why I believe most don’t have a daily practice (and it’s probably not what you think!)

4.    Three traits of a successful practice 

Stress negatively impacts your body and your mind. If you’re stressed, you don’t think clearly. Self-care practices are related to less stress and a calm and clear mind (read: Better dissertations in less time with less stress!)

Gem #1: Adopting a simple self-care practice is the single most powerful thing you can do to unleash your genius

A calm and clear mind allows you to research more efficiently, think critically, write better, respond rather than react to feedback, and maintain harmonious relationships in and out of the school setting. 

Basic definition - Things we do to take care of our health, especially during times of stress (but so few do).

 Why don't we do it? 1) Ability, 2) Resources, 3) Lack of Joy 4) Time 

 Gem #2: A self-care practice expands time

How? A calm and clear mind allows you to tap your intuition which will guide you in managing activities. We cannot manage time, we can only manage activities and your intuition will help you do this (Check out episode #6 for more details on this point).

Try it: https://youtu.be/M4xXa6N7OnE

Why don’t we do it? Hidden in the belief that you don’t have time is that self-care is a selfish act.

Gem #3: As a species, most humans are short on self-love, the fuel that motivates a self-care practice. 

Picture a rocket going into space. Self-love is the rocket fuel that motivates you to practice self-care. When you do that, you can blast off to your genius best and highest self.

Let's redefine self-care so we can get out of this predicament. Self-care is any activity that provides evidence that you care about yourself. It is the expression of self-love, the rocket fuel to becoming you were meant to be. But it’s scary to step into your true and authentic superhero self. We talk about the imposter syndrome a lot in academia, but guess what? This is prevalent beyond the ivory tower. 

I’ve given you the problem; here is the solution: Start with self-care and self-love will follow. Don’t take my word for it; try it.

We have a divine seed of self-love. This seed of self-love is buried under layers and layers of junk (think of an onion). Take small steps towards a daily self-care practice and the layers will come off.

Let me show you how to do this: SEA.

S. Simple: What can you do in about 5 minutes?

E. Enjoyable: What sounds fun? *critically important*

A. Agile: Be ok with it changing

Viktor Frankl: Between stimulus and response, there is a space.  In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. 

How do you find your SPACE?  Start with the breath. YouTube: https://youtu.be/6PvrbU6HL8A

Do you care enough? 

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This is basically the way you work smarter, not harder. You're listening to the Happy Doc Student Podcast, a podcast dedicated to providing clarity to the often mysterious doctoral process. Do you feel like you're losing your mind? Let me and my guests show you how to put more joy in your journey and graduate with your sanity, health and relationships intact. I'm your host, Dr. Heather Frederick and this is episode three. In this show, I'm going to talk about how to create better dissertations or doctoral projects in less time with less stress through the unspoken secret of self-care. And if the phrase self-care conjures up images of kale salads, or someone in the Lotus pose, I want to invite you to take a nice deep breath. And just let that go. Now, I'm going to be talking a lot about self care on this podcast and bringing in guests with all sorts of different perspectives and viewpoints. Today I just want to lay the foundation, set the groundwork, just scratch the surface by doing four things. I'm going to briefly explain why self-care is so important for doctoral students and faculty. I'm going to offer up a new definition of self care, something I want you to consider. I'm going to reveal why I believe most people don't have a regular self-care practice and it's probably not what you think. And then I'm going to share three traits of a successful self-care practice. So you can get started on one, right away. So, where do we start? The doctoral process is a transformational process that can sometimes be quite uncomfortable. But as you know, the point of this podcast is to facilitate an enjoyable transformational process. And self-care does just that. Now the earlier you adopt a practice, the better. But listen, it is a must during the dissertation or doctoral project stage that last leg of the journey, that point in the program, where up to an estimated 50% of the people drop out, don't be one of those statistics. And here is one way you can stack the odds in your favor for completing your program. Now it's common knowledge that stress negatively impacts your body and your mind. In short, you don't think clearly when you're stressed out, think about it. Consider a time where you acted in a way that really wasn't quote unquote, you, maybe you got really upset or did something in haste. I bet you would say you were stressed out. When you're stressed, you lose access to that front part of your brain. It absolutely impacts your cognitive function. Stress also prohibits that elusive flow that state that you want to be in when you're writing your paper, or if you're a faculty member, when you're mentoring and reviewing a paper. Now there's tons of research that supports this idea that self-care practices in general are related to outcomes like less stress and so therefore a calm and clear mind. And if there is ever a time, students and faculty need to be on the top of their game, it's during the creation of a dissertation or doctoral project. Now, today I've got three things that I'm calling my little gems, things that I would love it, if you at the end of the show remembered, there are the three things that I learned. Here's the first one. Adopting a simple self-care practice is the single most powerful thing you can do to unleash your genius. I'm going to say that again. If you want to unleash your genius, you need to consider a regular self-care practice. Let's talk about just a short list of the benefits. A calm and clear mind will allow you, if you're a student, to research more efficiently. Think critically. Write better. Respond rather than react to feedback. You know that critical feedback is coming and how you respond to it is so important. It will help you maintain harmonious relationships in and out of the school setting. So not only among your committee and your faculty members, but the people you're interacting with at work and at home. Now, what about if you're faculty? A calm and clear mind allows you to manage your activities more skillful. Provide better feedback in less time remain calm and cool during those student meltdowns that are often going to happen after that critical feedback comes. And here's a nice bonus for students and faculty. Everyone is going to have way more fun if you come to the table with a calm and clear mind. Now, you know, I've been doing this work for just over 20 years and there are those students who complete, and those who. And there are chairs and committee members who kind of earned this title of rockstars. And then there's those who aren't. Now you may be wondering is the one quality that separates these two groups, self care, and I'm here to say emphatically, no. You heard me, right. You can complete your degree or be a rock star and never take care of yourself. But I believe that self care is non negotiable, whether you're a student or a faculty member, if you want to have a fighting chance of enjoying this process. So let's bottom line this, and maybe even take it a step further. If you're a student self care will help you finish with your sanity, your relationships and your health intact. And if you're a faculty member, it allows you to also maintain your mental and physical health and bring your best to the table when it comes to mentoring. But more than that, the doctoral process, whether you're a student or a faculty member, is a journey that can reveal the highest expression of your best self and self care can be the portal through which that happens. Okay. So let's back up just a bit and talk about what do I mean by self care? Now, if you do a Google search, you'll come up with a basic definition that sounds something like this self care is things that we do to take care of our health especially during times of stress. And as a human living in a very temporary body, this seems like a pretty basic concept that most would buy into. Right? Most people would say, sure, it makes sense to take care of myself, but so few do. Especially stressed doctoral candidates and committees, which is sort of ironic, right? When you ask someone why they don't have a regular self-care practice, they usually give you one of four reasons. Ability. I don't know how to meditate, prepare healthy meals. Resources. I don't have money to join a gym or I don't have access to organic food. Lack of joy in the process. I just don't like to do those things. But number four and the most commonly cited reason is time. I just don't have time to do those things. Now I told you that I had three gems I was going to share with you today. And the first was that self care unleashes your genius. And here's my second. And I love this one. A self care practice expands time. Now, if you were kind of tuning me out or dual tasking, I hope I have your attention. Now, let me say that again. A self-care practice expands time. A self-care practice is going to give you exactly what it is you want so much during this part of your program. More time. Now, hang on. How can that be? How can spending time on yourself? Give you more time. A calm and clear mind allows you to tap your intuition and your intuition will guide you in managing your tasks in a balanced and healthy way. Let me give you an example. Have you ever had a time where maybe there was this big issue happening at work and you got an email and there were a bunch of people on it, and for whatever reason, you chose not to respond only to come back a few hours later and see that the issue completely resolved itself without ever having to be involved? Or maybe if you're a faculty member, you open up a paper and it looks to be a little bit of what I call a train wreck. You close it. Something tells you don't look at that right now only to get an email from the student later saying they had uploaded the wrong version. See, when you have a clear line of communication with your intuition, it's going to guide you and let you know when to do what now, newsflash here, we can't manage time. We can only manage our activities. And this was a key thing that I learned years ago when I read Mark Wood's book attack your day before it attacksyou. And I did an interview with him and that podcast will be released soon, so keep an eye out for that. So, let me sum this up. When you tap into your intuition, you can better manage your activities. This is basically the way you work smarter, not harder. Now don't take my word for this. I'm going to encourage you to try it. I'm going to link to a very short four minute activity in the show notes where you could try this out. Okay. So let's do a recap. I said I had three gems for you too. The first was at self-care unleashes your genius. The second is that it expands time. Yay. We all need more of that. And here comes the third let's stop and do a quick reality check. I've made a pretty compelling case. I hope that self-care is something we should all be doing, but why don't we do it now? I said, the number one reason people usually give is I simply don't have time. Heather, if you could give me an extra couple hours in the day, I promise I would do. But here's the thing hidden in the belief that you don't have time is that self care is a selfish act. So that third gem I'm about to give you is insight into the reason we all aren't practicing self-care okay, drum roll. I believe the reason we don't practice self-care in a way that would make us all self-care gurus, and there's no reason we couldn't all be one when it comes to our self-care, is that as a species, most humans are short on self love. Now, hang on. If this sounds just a little bit out there for you, just listen to what I think the predicament is that we are all in and then my solution for how to get out of it. Oh, and by the way, you probably know, we teach that, which we need to learn the most. So believe me, when I say I have had to go deep into this concept of self-love. Okay. Now, when I give a seminar to a group of highly educated, gainfully employed people, these are people who are successful by social standards. They say they are proud of their accomplishments. They're generally happy. And they generally like themselves. Now, if I take them through a deep process where they spontaneously come up with a number where one is, I don't love myself at all. And 10 is, I am madly and passionately in love with myself. Do you know what the average is? Guess. A whopping 3. You heard that right. Three. At this point, I'm going to offer up a model of what I think is going on and how this all works. I want you to picture a rocket going into space. Self-love is the rocket fuel that motivates you to practice self care. And when you do that, when you practice self care, you can blast off to your genius best and highest self. I know this might sound a little corny, but I have found that images and visuals work. So just hold that in your mind. Okay, so I just told you that most of us do not have a deep sense of the self-love. So we're basically running on empty. What I want to do is redefine self-care so that we can get out of this predicament. Are you ready? I'd like to invite you to think of self-care as any activity that provides evidence that you care about you, that you believe you have time for you. It is the ultimate expression of self-love that rocket fuel to becoming who you are meant to be. But here's the catch. That can be pretty scary. It's scary to step into your true and authentic superhero self. You know, we talk about the imposter syndrome a lot in academia, but guess what? This is prevalent beyond the ivory tower. So what I'm asking you to consider is that our resistance. Your resistance to practicing self-care maybe rooted in a lack of self love. Okay. So I've given you the problem. Now let me give you the solution. If you start with self care, self love will follow. Now again, I'm going to say don't take my word for it. Try it. See, I believe we all have a divine seed of self love, but think of an onion, this seed of self-love is buried under layers and layers of junk. Programs we were given as children, stories we have been told and have told ourselves. Life experiences, narratives we are living. Even traumas. They're all covering up this divine seed of self love, but I promise you even taking small, simple steps of self-care will allow these layers to just start to peel off. And as they do, your self-care practice will change in a profound way. So let me show you how to start a simple self-care practice. I use the acronym SEA S. E. A. I'm a big water person. So hopefully when you think of the seashore, it brings a smile to your face. The S stands for simple. What could you do in about five minutes now? Shortly after I discovered the power of self care, I quickly found myself on what I call the holistic hamster wheel. I was dry brushing, oil pulling, doing yoga, meditation, chanting, journaling. But listen, if your self-care routine stresses you out it's not self care. So just ask yourself right now. What one thing comes to mind that I could do that would take just about five minutes, because remember gem #2? You do have time. Now, the E stands for enjoyable. These activities need to affirm that you care about you. Before I really understood how to truly care for myself, my self care activities were a to-do list that I did out of guilt. Have you ever told yourself I'll work out because I know I should? If you go to the gym and eat salads because you think you should, but you hate being there, and lettuce is your least favorite food. Then guess what? By my definition, this is not self care. And on future podcasts, we'll get into how important the energy is that you bring to any situation. But for now, let's just focus on picking enjoyable activities. Okay. So at this point, if you're conjuring up images of chocolate cake or Margarita's, even if that cake is gluten-free and those margaritas are organic because they're enjoyable and you're thinking that's what I'm giving you permission to do. I just want to say, I think these things are absolutely fine to indulge in. Do them because you think they're fun. But just don't call them self care. Okay? So again, for the letter E enjoyable, ask yourself what sounds fun. And I argued, this is the most important aspect of a self-care routine. So maybe as I'm talking, you're thinking about a hobby, maybe you're going to be inspired to get out your guitar or your harmonica. Maybe you're going to start painting again or get out in the garden. Here's what I want you to remember, just because your best friend does it, or Oprah gives it two thumbs up. If it's not fun for you. Don't do it. And if you are going to do it, then do it, but just don't call it self-care okay. That leads us to the letter A agile. Your practice needs to be agile. Be okay with it changing even day by day. So you might be thinking, okay, that's it. She's convinced me tomorrow I'm going to go for that five mile run or I'm going to get up and do an hour of yoga. But what if you wake up and your body just wants to walk for 15 minutes, or maybe even just stretch for five, I'm encouraging you to approach yourself care practice without judgment. Be okay with what's happening day by day. Be okay with it morphing over time. So that's the acronym. SEA S. E. A. Simple, enjoyable and agile. Now on this show, I've given you my three gems and how to get started. So whether you're a student or a faculty member, I would love for you to consider recognizing self care as part of the doc process. You know, people will say the best way to get a dissertation or a doctoral project done is to work on it every day. Now, typically you've got a day here or a day there where you're in the library or you're writing, but on the days you're not actively doing something academic, let the self-care practice be that one thing you do.. So every day you're saying I'm working on my dissertation today. I'm working on my doc project today because I did a meditation or I painted, or I went for a walk. You must exercise the stress relief muscle. Remember you are in a program that is a marathon, not a sprint. So before I end the show, I want to give you a practical application of everything I've talked about today. You know, you're going to get, or you've already been getting a lot of critical feedback and critical feedback tends to be very stressful and reactions range from frustrated, angry to upset; you name it. If there is an uncomfortable emotion to be experienced, you will probably experience it at some point during the process. And I love to share this quote by Victor Frankle. He said between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. This is so impactful. I'm going to read it one more time. Between stimulus and response there is a space in that space is our power to choose our response. And in our response lies our growth and our freedom. Whether you're a student or a faculty member, things are going to happen during this process that trigger you. So I'm asking you. How do you find your space? Where is your happy place? You know, when your kids aren't listening, when someone cuts you off in traffic or your partner lets the dishes pile up in the sink for the 20th time, when they promised they would do them, where do you go so that you respond and don't react? A lot of people when I ask them that question, they don't have a happy place that they go to reflexively. So I'm going to suggest you start with your breath. It's fine. It's easy. Our bodies were designed to do it. I will have a YouTube link in the show notes that bring you through my favorite breath practice, but there is so much power in the breath and it doesn't have to be complicated. Just take a nice deep breath in with me, right, right now. And let it go. Do you see how that opened up some space in your body and in your mind? What I recommend and what I do is I have an app on my phone called a mindfulness bell app. There's plenty of free ones out there. I set it to go off every 15 minutes and it's not an alarm. It's just a chime. It sounds something like that. And when that chime goes off, it reminds me to take a nice deep breath and I usually have a word or a phrase that I breathe in for the day. What I'd like to suggest for you as the phrase I am worthy. So you breathe in. I am and then exhale worthy. You don't have to say it out loud. Just think it in your mind. This is simple. Most people find it enjoyable and it can morph in that you may find yourself stopping and taking multiple breaths. So this is just a great place to get started with a self-care practice that you can do daily. So let's do a quick recap. Why care about self-care? Because it unleashes your genius. What's the biggest barrier? It's thinking that you don't have time, but now, you know, that self-care practices expand time. And that, that resistance is likely rooted in this universal lack of self-love remember no judgment. This is nobody's fault. We're all in this together. Just know that it's there and know there's an easy way to get out of it. Create a simple practice. It should be fun and easy and just don't get too attached to it. So the last question I have for you is, do you care enough? Do you care enough about yourself to carve out time, to create a simple. Enjoyable and agile self-care practice. Just start somewhere, start with the breath and listen. Don't think it's too simple. Simple practices can be very profound and yes, I will be diving deeper into different types of practices like meditation, vagal toning, body work, breath work, self-love. I'll do this with future guests. But until then, I'd like to invite you to visit my website, ExpandYourHappy.Com, where you can download a document

I wrote called The Doctoral Journey:

12 Things You Need to Know That They Probably Won't Tell You. And when you download that article, you'll be invited to participate in a 7 -day. email adventure that will help you kickstart your happy doctoral journey. I'm looking forward to connecting I'm with you there. And until the next episode, I'm sending you more joy for your journey. If you're enjoying the Happy Doc Student Podcast, could I ask you a big favor? Would you be willing to rate, review and subscribe? It would help me get noticed by more people like you. People who know there is a better way to navigate the doctoral process. One more thing, just a quick reminder that the information opinions and recommendations presented in this podcast are for general information only.