This semester we’ve had the amazing opportunity to speak to graduate students and faculty in multiple clinical psychology graduate programs across Canada and the United States. One question that we receive a lot, especially from graduate students, is how to engage in self-care when their graduate program doesn’t seem to be supportive of the time and resources they need to do so. Unfortunately, this problem isn’t unique to grad students: Many faculty and instructors also work in environments and departments that are not supportive of self-care.
We often compare engaging in self-care while working in unsupportive settings to being a fish who is attempting to swim upstream against strong currents. In academia, those currents are a culture of overwork, expectations you will sacrifice everything to “do your calling,” and the idea that self-care is for the weak and lazy.
We have a solution for swimming upstream when everyone wants you to go in the opposite direction: Stealthy Self-Care.
What is Stealthy Self-Care?
Sometimes we just aren’t sure if we’re in an environment that will support our self-care and it feels too risky to try. Other times, we know for sure our self-care needs are not going to be understood by the people around us. We cannot allow these circumstances to lead us to abandon self-care altogether.
While it’s great to be an outspoken, fervent supporter of self-care and work to change our environments, sometimes we just can’t do that. Enter Stealthy Self-Care.
Stealthy Self-Care simply means that you don’t have to tell anyone and everyone that you are engaging in self-care in order to do it. It is perfectly okay to engage in self-care on the down-low. Here are some examples of Stealthy Self-Care:
Stealthy Self-Care simply means that you don’t have to tell anyone and everyone that you are engaging in self-care in order to do it.
- Turning your phone off or putting it in airplane mode
- Treating self-care time like an appointment (and saying you have an appointment if asked)
- Limiting the hours you respond to email
- Not telling your peers (or advisor!) what hours you do or don’t work
- Avoiding participating in conversations about workload and/or self-care
The Stealthy Self-Care Promise
Here at TMSC when we advise Stealthy Self-Care we also request that people take the Stealthy Self-Care Promise, which means promising to be loud and outspoken about your self-care when and where you have the power to do so.
It’s okay for now to not use your voice – those of us who can, will.
You can join us when you’re able to.