Take Action Tuesday

Today’s Take Action Tuesday is brought to us by Danielle Schmitt and Sej Chung from the San Diego CA Pod.

As women-identifying people in science, technology, engineering, math, and medicine (STEMM), we are well aware of how stressful and anxiety-inducing balancing work, family, and volunteer work can be. Surveys have found a high rate of anxiety and depression amongst graduate students. Women are twice as likely to develop common mental disorders, such as anxiety and depression, compared to men. As women in STEMM, it is critical to prioritize our mental and physical health. This week, we provide some ideas for how to better take care of ourselves and reach out to those in your community who might need help. 

Here are some tips:

  1. Start your day with five minutes of meditation (try apps like Headspace if you want something more structured); 

  2. Healthy gut makes for a healthy mind! Your gut can influence the way your brain functions and as a result can also affect your mental health. Some foods, like fatty fish, whole grains, lean protein, leafy greens, and yogurt, can help with mental health.

  3. Daily positive affirmations can help block out negative thoughts. These can be post-it notes on your desk, or notes on your phone as reminders to be kind to yourself and take breaks. 

  4. Exercise can reduce stress and anxiety, but doesn’t have to involve the gym or long work-outs. Even a short walk or run in the morning/evening is beneficial - the key is to do something active daily!

In addition to selfcare, we need to destigmatize discussion of mental health in science. Here are some easy ways to start:

  1. If you feel comfortable, talk about your own mental health when you have the opportunity. When speaking about mental health in graduate school, we found that many of our fellow students were experiencing similar issues, but no one talked about it. So lets make it okay to talk about mental health. 

  2. Be conscious of language - do not use a mental health disorder to describe a person’s action

  3. Remind yourself and others - mental health is just as important as physical health.

If you find that yourself or someone in your community in need of help, reach out for help. There are national helplines, resources for veterans, or find A Therapist. Finally, the American Psychological Association has some tips on how scientists can practice self-care

Take some time this week and every week to take care of you and your community. The work we do is hard and we need to find ways to take care of ourselves and each other. Self-care is going to look different for everyone based on your lifestyle, culture, and socioeconomic status. Find a way to give yourself what you need, and most of all, be kind to yourself.

Photo by Josh Withers on Unsplash