“What do you do for fun? Something that is NOT related to Student Affairs?”
My response to this question from my supervisor was simply looking at him silently and sitting dumbfounded on the outdated couch in his office. After a long one-on-one meeting that consisted of me venting about the stress I had been experiencing as a #SAgrad and aspiring #SApro, I was speechless. I did not have an answer. It was in that moment that I realized I did not have a method to utilize when I needed to decompress and reconnect with myself within the unpredictable, chaotic world that is Student Affairs.
I needed to find a way to purposely disconnect from Student Affairs and provide the opportunity to add a refreshing twist to my #SAgrad lifestyle that was healthy and productive. Below are a list of things that I tested out and have discovered significant results in my day-to-day routine that are fun and simple to adjust into the busy life as a #SAgrad.
1. Get a Planner:
Whether it is an app on your phone or a small planner to carry around, pick one that looks appealing to you that works best with how you operate on a daily basis. Be sure it is something you enjoy looking at instead of dreading whenever you need to add yet ANOTHER meeting to your busy schedule on top of staff meetings, campus events, and that twelve page APA cited paper you have coming up.
2.Find a Goal OUTSIDE Student Affairs:
This is extremely hard to conceptualize since the majority of graduate student’s end goal is to get a job (eventually a 401K) once they have completed their program. However, there is more to one’s identity than an inspiring #SApro. I tell my staff during our one-on-ones, “you are not a student first, you are a person first.” This also applies to #SAgrads. From finding a good book to read to learning how to juggle, find an outlet that can give your developing-student-affairs-brain something else to think about rather than the next staff ice breaker. Hobbies such as journaling or purchasing a coloring book with new crayons can assist in the reflection on your day and processing what you have learned.
3. Get Away From Your Work Environment
The campus you work at is your work environment, not just within your office. When I say get away from campus, I do not mean find an empty table in the Student Union or a quiet corner in the library. Whether it is in a small coffee shop or a specific hiking trail with the best scenic view in the area, go to it. Make time to be in your special place where you can physically remove yourself from your work every once in a while to take off your #SAgrad/#SApro hat.
4. Turn Off Your Phone When You Don’t Need It
Through a Residence Life perspective, we’re paranoid that something may happen at anytime of the day. It is not a joke when my colleagues and I say it is a 24/7 job. However, there are duty rotations for a reason. If you are not on call, then physically be off call. Communicate with your staff how you are not on the clock all the time and follow through when you tell them you will not answer at 11:46 PM at night for a jammed printer at the front desk, or for something that can wait until your office hours the next day.
5. Get a Fish
Okay, as a proud fish owner, I am biased. But at least consider finding something simple to take care of and gear your attention towards. Besides a fish, there are multiple plants that are ideal for offices and homes that require little constant care. I have also found working on and maintaining a bike a therapeutic method that is productive and healthy in its own way. When we take the time to care for something, we are taking the time to care for ourselves.
It is difficult when the one thing you are passionate about becomes the biggest stressor in your life. These suggestions I have listed and described have been beneficial for me in a multitude of ways to help when my passion becomes my stress; hopefully #SAgrads can take at least one of my findings with them as they continue to pursue their studies in Student Affairs and onwards as a #SApro as a healthy and fun process.