Res lifers will understand when I say that working in higher education can be taxing. We did not come into our positions seeking a six-figure salary or excess vacation time. We’re here because we love helping others. There is no better feeling than having a student look you in the eye and say how much they genuinely appreciated your individualized outreach. Coupled with those rewarding moments are the serious cases we handle. Those of us who are live-in can’t exactly put our work aside when we come home. It is important, then, that we practice what we preach when it comes to self-care and health.
To make health and wellness a part of my hectic grad school years, I became a certified personal trainer.
I discovered a passion for fitness while earning my undergraduate degree, but I took it to an extreme. Recovering from an eating disorder and subsequently looking at health from a more holistic point of view allowed me to prioritize my own well-being. I generally work out six mornings a week but if I skip a day or two to sleep in, I recognize that it won’t be detrimental to my overall health. It is beneficial to find that sweet spot between challenging yourself and taking time to unwind.
Additionally, I often pack my meals in advance.
I set an example for my students and clients by eating plenty of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and lean proteins. That does not, however, mean that I live in a cycle of deprivation. If the Residence Hall Association is handing out free pie, you know I’m taking some! As cliché as it sounds, moderation is far more mentally healthy than restriction.
A moderate healthy lifestyle requires practice, resources, and self-reflection.
I’m privileged enough to work at institutions that offer healthier dining options, wellness events, and supportive staff members focused on accountability. Without those systems in place, I’m not sure I would be as self-motivated and mentally/physically fit as I am today. If you find yourself in an environment without such auxiliaries, I encourage you to lobby for them. Committees centered around the well-being of students can easily transfer over into staff initiatives. We can’t effectively take care of our students if we aren’t taking care of ourselves!
#SAfit implies making a conscious choice to become wholly healthy—a choice that must be based on each individual’s personal needs and interests. Health looks and feels differently for everyone, whether you prefer meditating or powerlifting. To be #SAfit is to not only commit to taking care of ourselves, but to encourage others to do the same for themselves.
This post is part of our #SAfit series for April. With the constant hustle and bustle of our profession, we can’t forget to put ourselves at the top of our to-do list sometimes. It is essential that we remember to take time for self care and this series highlights how our colleagues work #SAfit into their lifestyles. This can look different for each of us and your journey is your own. For more info, please see Mandi Stewart’s intro post. Be sure to check out the other posts in this series too!