If you’re like me, you created resolutions to make positive change in your life for the new year. As a result, you came back to the office with positive intentions and a commitment to hold yourself accountable. You told yourself: This is it! I’m going to achieve my goal this year! I’m going to do more self care!
When there’s a full inbox of emails and your phone has a blinking light indicating voicemail, it feels easiest to jump into action. After all, you should tackle them immediately, right? Before long, it’s lunch time and you didn’t take the quick break you intended.
The trouble with resolutions is that we often set ourselves up to fail. Self care seems like a good thing, so why shouldn’t you consider what doing more of it looks like? But, if you don’t think about it ahead of time, you might notice that your resolution to focus on self care has become a stressor of its own.
Stressing About Self Care
In the career center, I often talk to students who say they’ve applied to x number of jobs and they don’t know why they haven’t been hired. The stress they feel is tangible. The last thing they want to hear is that they should take a deep breath. They don’t think I know what I’m talking about when I suggest that they take care of themselves throughout the process. Job searching is stressful and a healthy dose of self care is only going to help. Still, like many of us, they are reluctant to accept that.
If I shared that advice with colleagues, I’d get a polite “you’re right!” in response. Then, I’d likely observe them ignoring my suggestion. I get it. It feels counter-intuitive to take pause when you’re stressed. Your body has a physiological desire to run away or eliminate the problem. Try to fight that urge though, because although your maturity and experience make your needs different than students’, that doesn’t mean you deserve less support. More importantly, it doesn’t make your self care less relevant than theirs.
Hit the Ground Running, But Be Kind to Yourself
If you resolve to do more self care this year, focus on being compassionate to yourself. Remember that you deserve kindness and don’t resist starting over if you make a mistake. Self care isn’t about checking everything off on a list. It’s not about doing specific things because they are supposed to be good for your stress level. Self care is about getting your needs met and that looks different for everyone.
As another semester begins, remember that it’s okay to slow down to a jog if you aren’t ready to hit the ground running. Reflect and take pause if you need to. In fact, someone once told me that “there are no career emergencies unless someone’s life is in danger.” Next time you feel frantic, remember that piece of advice and take care of your needs first. Your responsibilities will be waiting for you when you’re ready.
This post is part of our #SACareer series, addressing careers in student affairs, careers outside of student affairs, and the work of career services professionals. Read more about the series in Jake Nelko’s intro post. Each post is a contribution by a member or friend of the Commission for Career Services from ACPA. Our organization exists to benefit the careers of career services professionals, student affairs professionals, and anyone supporting students in the career endeavors. For more information about how to get involved with the Commission for Career Services or the #SACareer blog series, contact Paige Erhart at firstname.lastname@example.org.