My personal wellness plan began when I sought therapy about a month ago. If you are experiencing significant levels of stress, I highly recommend speaking to a therapist. As student affairs personnel, we constantly refer students to counseling services, but very few of us take the time to seek these services for ourselves. Though we know its usefulness, many folks still internalize the stigma that counseling is “not for me.” But you do not need (or want) to hit rock bottom before you start talking to someone.
If therapy interests you, start with a baby step today, and look for a therapist. I concede that therapy is not accessible for many folks who have limited benefits or financial resources; some folks with marginalized identities may find it difficult to seek a provider who understands them. However, your choice to start researching your options today is a small—but important—step to finding out if this is an option for you. Many institutions provide Employment Assistance Programs that furnish a number of free counseling sessions for “significant life events” for individuals strained by financial resources. A good place to start researching potential EAP programs is your Human Resource department.
Post-therapy, I reached a heightened sense of clarity of what my life lacked: balance. My personal and emotional life had been stunted due to some transitional life events and some work turmoil. Below, I’ll share a few habits I am forming to achieve improved balance, resources I’ve used for self-exploration, and some additional insight. These resources work for me but may not be for everyone, so take what works for you and leave the rest! In seeking therapy and developing these habits, I am hoping to develop a more balanced, holistic approach to my everyday life that honors my need for personal time. In doing so, I hope the rejuvenation I find in my personal life will spill over to more productivity and joy in my work life.
Seek therapy if you need it.
Research availability of free sessions with a therapist through your institution’s EAP program, which is usually provided by HR.
Set an intention at the beginning of every week.
This will help focus your free time during the summer to a very specific goal. You can set one for work and one for your personal life. Keep it simple. Some examples include: I will stop checking my e-mail after 5 PM (pro-tip: take the app off your phone; logging in via a browser takes much more time, and it’ll discourage frequent checking). I will cook dinner for myself at least three times this week. I will spend 30 minutes everyday reading a novel. Spend thirty seconds every morning reviewing this intention and reflecting on your progress on fulfilling it.
Guard your free time fiercely, and use your free time to seek joy.
Reconsider anything that doesn’t bring you joy outside of your work hours (and maybe even let it go). Consider setting aside personal time for one or two hours each week to take yourself on a date.
Center yourself around hobbies or passions you put on hold during the year.
I’ve neglected reading and writing, so my partner and I have picked out a book for “summer reading.” I’m also setting aside time each morning to write at least three pages in my journal before doing anything else. These steps do not have to be big, nor does this mean you are trying to be an expert. You are just getting started; let yourself be a beginner.
Read The Artist’s Way, by Julia Cameron.
This book works for anybody interested in getting in touch with their creative side. Whether or not you consider yourself an artist, this book’s 12-week guided workshop is eye-opening for creatives and non-creatives alike. It uses heavily spiritual language, but it is easily customizable for whatever spiritual/faith-based cup of tea you prefer.
This post is part of our #BrighterSummerSA series for June. While we don’t stop in the summer, a lot of professional have a chance to slow down for a minute. How can you utilize that slower pace to make for brighter tomorrow? Using that precious time for a greater good can seem to make your whole life smoother. For more info, please see Doug’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!