Tag Archives: mental health

Honouring our Realities, Reconnecting to Self, and Engaging with All Our Relations as Key to Overcoming Graduate School Slump

Post by Stephanie Day

The past year has been…so complex. Each person, family, community, and Nation will have their own unique experience of what the past year has been like and meant for them. From the many global challenges, injustices, and movements, to the smaller, more personal challenges that spurred existential fears and wonderings. All of these existential thoughts, experiences, and challenges all occurred during a pivotal point in my academic career – crunch time for completing a master’s degree and thesis. If I am being honest, there were months dispersed among the past year where very little work was accomplished; little inner work, schoolwork, and even paid work. I would sometimes feel numb to the raw intensity of what life was providing me during this time, passing the days with mindless television and constant pervasive thoughts and worry for loved ones. I would think of activities I could engage in that might support me to find my way back to myself and my schoolwork, but even those activities seemed to be too much. I have started finding my way back to myself through small daily steps, including: working out of an office (as opposed to my bedroom that I worked out of for one year), scheduling tasks into my calendar and making a commitment to try to stick to the schedule (although remaining easy on myself when I do not), attempting to go for walks in nature daily, and appreciating the birds singing, the ocean’s heartbeat, and the strength behind the crisp air that gives us life. When I honoured and acknowledged the weight of our current realities, began to process those realities, started to reconnect to myself, and started to relate again to all our relations, I found an open path inviting me back toward my thesis. Ceremonial honouring of the people, ancestors, and all relations that permeate that work has been special. Shifting my mindset from the Western standards and pressures to finish to one of respect, honour, reverence, reciprocity, responsibility, and gratitude has re-awakened my relationship to my thesis and those I have encountered throughout it. It is deeply motivating for me to remember the relationships I am accountable to, including those of the future generations. Each year I gain, I appreciate more and more how precious and fragile life, relationships, and all our relations are as we constantly seek to make meaning of our universe – at least to me, it feels a lot better to do it while honouring all our relations.

Stephanie Day works as a Community Research Liaison for the BC NEIHR. She is currently completing her Master’s in Counselling Psychology at the University of Victoria.