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Taking Care of Your Well-Being

April 8, 2016

By Lewis E. Forrest, II, M.Ed

Being a graduate student can be challenging mentally, emotionally, and even physically. It can also be extremely rewarding, filling you with new ideas, information, and energy about the field you are studying. As all students, graduate students have complex lives: many of us work and attend school, have families and other responsibilities that require a level of flexibility that can be challenging.

So, how are you taking care of yourself in the midst of classes, family, friends, work, and life in general? I can remember being a graduate student in 2003, working full-time, married, and my wife and I expecting our third child. Looking back, I survived, but I wish I had thought more about how to balance the life of being a graduate student and its impact on my well-being.

As you may know, Mason has made a commitment to become a model well-being university, which helps students, faculty, and staff build a life of vitality, purpose, resilience, and engagement. You can read about Mason’s strategic goal #7, which focuses on Well-Being in more detail here: http://strategicplan.gmu.edu. There are many questions about how we become a Well-Being University and why we would aspire to do so. The why is outlined in the plan and is stated as follows:

At Mason, we believe that “we thrive together” – shared success is one of our core values. We want to become the first well-being university, providing a place for all members of our Mason community in an environment where they can personally thrive while contributing to the overall mission.

The question I have for you is: “With all you have on your plate, how can our lives serve as examples of Well-Being?What common practices, beliefs, perspectives do you engage in everyday that contribute to your well-being?

I’ll use a short story to illustrate my life as an example of well-being.

On the white board in my office I have three words which motivate me everyday. I shared these three words and what they meant to me with a colleague. This colleague now uses these words as inspiration as well. This is just a small example of how something common can be used as an example of well-being.

While I initially thought the words would only be for my benefit, I learned they meant something to my colleague. This is well-being and a small example of how we can be intentional about our connections to others as we aspire to be a community that “thrives together.”

Take some time to think about three positive practices, beliefs, or perspectives (you fill in the blank) that you do daily or weekly that help you be your best self at work or at home. Write these things down and begin to pay closer attention to how they contribute to your well-being. You may even be moved to share your positive practices, beliefs, or perspectives with someone else to help increase their well-being.

Once you have identified the three positive practices, beliefs, or perspectives, try these three easy steps (borrowed from Gallup StrengthsFinder training):

  1. Name it

Find your personal connection to Well-Being. Write it down, post it up, talk about it.

  1. Claim it

Think about how to embody/share that connection with your classmates, colleagues, family, and friends.

  1. Aim it

Let your individual Well-Being practice(s) be an empowering tool to help you be at your best each and every day.

In the midst of your busy lives, I challenge you to be mindful of your well-being, and the well-being of your classmates, colleagues, and families. Well-being can mean many things, and the pathways toward well-being are as varied as our individual lives, find where you fit in and claim it.

You can learn more about the University’s Well-Being initiatives here:


Lewis E. Forrest, II, M.Ed, is Associate Dean for University Life at George Mason University.

This blog post has been edited and updated to reflect current changes in information.

Edited by Sydney Glass, 10/23/2018

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