Hello my fellow student affairs professionals! Thanks for taking the time out of your busy day to read this. Whether you’re relaxing in bed after a long day of one-on-ones, programs, and accountability meetings, or you’re simply at your desk during a much needed break from work, I appreciate you. Your mind and body appreciate you, as well. I decided to take a break from my busy day in the office to discuss something near and dear to my heart. So, what do I love more than student development? Many things all link back to one thing, one idea, one necessity in this field: self-care.
Self-care is what we SA pros always preach, while we secretly stay in our offices well past business hours. I’d be lying if I said I was never in the office before or after business hours, but I’ve learned how to have a healthy balance between working my butt off and taking some time to reset. I remember the first time someone explained self-care to me. I imagined taking an hour out of the day to go to an on-campus yoga class with my colleagues. WRONG! Self-care isn’t all about meditating, mindfulness, and yoga. It’s about taking time out of your day and devoting it solely, entirely, and utterly to yourself.
When I first started as a Residence Life Coordinator, I remember feeling like I had to do everything right. It was my first time being a professional and my first time being the one parents wanted to talk to when they were upset. I was the HBIC, if you will, and that freaked me out. So what did I do? I took every possible moment that I could to learn about the position. I was giving more of myself to the job each day, and I never took the time to refill. Even when I was on empty, I was finding little bits and pieces to give to my students, staff, and job. So what happened when I hit my true empty? Well, I had my very first panic attack.
If you’ve never had a panic attack, be grateful. For those of you who have, I feel for you. Anxiety is very real and crippling, and it shouldn’t be taken lightly. I remember waking up that morning and thinking I was going to die. I went to the ER and the doctor said, “Shalik, you’re fine. Nothing is wrong with you. Go home and just relax.” So I did just that. I went home and relaxed…with my work iPad. Once again, I was pouring into others even when my body was telling me it needed a break.
I have since come to my senses and have learned that self-care is one way to keep anxiety at bay. Self-care comes in many different forms. For me, it’s spending 30 minutes per day working out. Some days, it’s spending 30 minutes before bed curled up with my fiancé, my dog, and a good book. Self-care is about taking time each day to refill your spirit and your being when you’ve given every last ounce of energy you can offer. As student affairs professionals, we all want to pour into students and help them be critically thinking creatures, but we can’t do that if we are not taking care of ourselves.
Being SAFit isn’t just about being physically fit.
It’s about your mind and body being in the best shape they can through self-care. Self-care is being able to advocate for yourself, when you know you’re running on E. It’s about letting yourself take some time to recharge so you can be the best version of yourself for your colleagues and students. So the next time you’re thinking about sneaking back to your office for a little late night work sesh, ask yourself, “Is this going to drain energy or refuel it?” The answer will make all the difference.
This post is part of our #SAfit series for May. 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!
> BONUS <
Podcast With Ed Cabellon on The #SAFit Community