IFG UPDATE: Week 6/7 – Self-Care/Relationships

«Lighten up on yourself. No one is perfect. Gently accept your humanness.”

Deborah Day

For weeks 6 and 7 of IFG, we focused on Self-Care and Relationships. We started Week 6 discussing individual definitions of self-care and reflecting on whether or not we engage in self-care, at home and abroad. Though many of us agreed on the meaning of self-care, many of us realized we could be doing a better job at committing to a consistent self-care routine. Together we discussed the following questions:

  • How has living in a different country challenged our definition of self-care?
  • Living in Spain and studying abroad often gives us more time to self-reflect and engage in self-care – why might that be?
  • What barriers prevent us from engaging in self-care at home? While abroad?
  • What factors make us more likely to practice self-care? Why?

Together, students reflected on how the importance and practices of self-care are seen and performed differently in different cultures. For some students, studying abroad has made self-care easier – they have more free time to commit to doing things they enjoy. For others, they found it hard to find time for the routines they normally complete at home in an entirely new schedule and context. We also discussed different forms of self-care, such as meditation, exercise, journaling, and art.

In Week 7 of IFG, we continued self-reflecting – directing our attention to relationships. We started the session with a journal, writing down things we are grateful for, things that have happened over the past week, and the things we have learned that we will try to carry forward with us. We then directed our attention to our current relationships – writing down 5-10 people or groups that come to mind when we consider our current relationships. We discussed how the definition of “relationship,” varied from person to person – we wrote down relationships based on: familial relations, dependency, associations through what we do, and people who belong to our daily routines.

Most importantly, we talked about the changing state of relationships while living in a new place and how it can be challenging to maintain connections at home in the same way while being so far. It can also be challenging to make deep connections in a second language. We also noted how reflecting on our relationship to these challenges is important – it can help us to look at them from a different perspective.

We ended the session talking about mindful listening – how taking the time to truly listen to what is going on around us strengthens relationships not only with the people around us, but also the relationship we have with ourselves.

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