Late night meetings, fried mac and cheese bites at every event (yum), and eating a pizza slice from one meeting to the next. Sound familiar? Living a healthy, balanced lifestyle proves its hardship in the field of student affairs. As SA professionals and grads, we posses the opportunity to role model a healthy lifestyle to our students. When our students live a well balanced lifestyle, they obtain happiness, retention increases, job performance improves, positive relationships form, and students’ professional and personal development evolves. Helping our students live their college careers to the max is the ultimate goal. However, in order to educate our students on the foundation of wellbeing, it starts with us first.
Tom Rath’s book Eat Move Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes inspired me to model wellness to my students. Here are some “Small Choices” I am making at work in order to make “Big Changes” for my life and my students:
1. Candy Bowls: Instead of candy, fruit snacks sit in my candy bowl. Thinking of fun creative alternatives will make a big difference for yourself and when students come to visit.
2. Staff Training: Ordering food for training usually consists of lots of unhealthy and sugary snacks to “keep everyone awake”, however that does just the opposite. Ensuring healthy choices are available for student staff remains highly important. This year, I am providing a trail mix bar so my student staff can make their own hefty bags of fuel to snack on throughout training (Thanks UWRF for the idea!).
3. Programs/Events: At events, thinking about what is best for our students health is important. At many programs, pizza is the go to. However, there are so many more creative options that can work within a budget that is just as easy. Also, these events are usually just for snacks. Its okay to have some in moderation, but with a balanced meal ahead of time. Bring a healthy treat if you want something to munch on. My go to is dark chocolate, green juice, and almonds.
4. Lunch Break: Take at least a thirty minute break throughout the day to enjoy a healthy lunch, get out of the office, and socialize with colleagues. The mind needs a mental break and will allow for more focus and creativity in the afternoon.
1. One on Ones: Why not have 1:1 meetings while walking! It gets us out of my office, moving a bit, and enjoying the weather (when it’s nice). In the cold Minnesota winters, being creative like walking around the indoor track or student center is always a good option, plus you get to see more students and colleagues throughout the day.
2. Steps: Get out and move! Take breaks throughout the day and go for a quick walk. It will clear your mind and help you re-energize. Counting steps keeps you motivated and helps when you are faced with the choice of elevator or stairs. 10,000 should be a start for a goal.
3. Standing: We sit way too much at work. Standing while working and eliminating an hour of chair time a day will help with your health goals. Providing standing options for students at events and programs is a great way to promote standing and allow students to stand if they want to do so.
4. Planning Ahead: Each morning, plan ahead to add activity into your day. Find a hobby that requires active movement, like yoga, kickboxing, cross fit, running, walking, etc. I always put my activities into my calendar so I don’t forget.
1. Staff Meetings: No more night meetings for my staff. Our weekly staff meetings will be in the mornings or day, but nothing after 6 pm. In order to promote work life balance and sleep for my students, we will have day time meetings, even if it is in the morning.
2. Productivity: Being productive during the days prevents not doing work in bed at night. I try to maximize my full time while at work so I can have relaxing nights to myself. I also utilize my calendar and plan my whole day ahead to ensure I have time for myself. When I do have work at nights, I plan ahead and make sure I can have a relaxing bedtime routine when I get home, even if it is having tea while I get ready for bed.
3. Relax: Treat yourself! Create a nightly routine that relaxes you and gets you ready for bed. Yogi sleepy tea and reading relaxes me for a good night’s rest. Tracking sleep is a good way to assess sleeping habits to improve.
For more information, you can check out Tom Rath’s book Eat, Move, Sleep: How Small Choices Lead to Big Changes.