Self-care for graduate students (and faculty)

Stony Brook

Today I came across Alfreda James‘s wonderful piece at Inside Higher Ed on “self-care essentials for graduate students.” I really enjoyed the piece for two reasons. First, a lot of her piece applies to faculty members as well as graduate students. Second, Alfreda was a classmate of mine in graduate school. She is currently assistant director for graduate students and postdocs at the career center at Stony Brook University.

Here is a taste:

Self-care means recognizing the people around us who impede progress, hoard resources and cause physical and emotional exhaustion. Here are a few characters and characteristics within the graduate student community we need to avoid and/or immunize ourselves against:

  • The 24-hour critic: the person who attends every conference/Zoom meeting to hijack conversations with unrelated questions or what-ifs from another field;
  • Permanently agitated 10th-year ABD (all but degree): usually a man who switches advisers frequently and is supported by a long-suffering partner because funding is long gone; and
  • Superhero: the individual who serves on every committee because everything is important.

The 24-Hour Critic. The 24-hour critic can be either a peer or faculty member who will always find more nuance, more research and more evidence for you as a graduate student to produce. He removes all the oxygen from seminar rooms with multiple questions crossing the time and space continuum. He stifles ideas but later uses the research he dismissed. Protect yourself with early identification of the 24-hour critic’s toxic behavior, and then confer with others on ways to limit impact. If you have a scheduled meeting with him, plan to have an ally interrupt the encounter to pause his flow of words. The 24-hour critic thrives by consuming large amounts of your time.

Read the entire piece here.