Self-care has never been more important. In “normal” times, it is challenging enough for faculty and staff to prioritize self-care. We often hear that instructors start work before dawn, others work well after midnight, and others respond to emails in bed.
During the first pandemic in our lives, work seemed to be ongoing. Many of us have been working at home without a clear boundary between where and when we work. Sometimes our spouse, children and dogs are additional obstacles to our workload. For many faculty members today, remembering self-care measures that include exercise, healthy eating, adequate rest, and other recommended self-care measures may seem like a pipe dream.
At Delta College, we decided to make this dream a reality, even if only for half an hour. In January 2020, we held a winter study day with an 8-hour Zoom course dedicated to self-care and professional development. As soon as the agenda was released, the faculty members were already commenting on how to spend eight hours on Zoom, including a plan dedicated to self-care, which seemed hypocritical and quite ironic. In addition, they usually use part of Friday to catch up with the score and prepare for the next week. Now, they will have to take time out of the weekend to catch up with those eight hours of work.
As the coordinator of the Teacher Excellence Teaching Center, we were asked to preside over the afternoon meeting. We know that our meetings cannot just discuss why we need self-care; we need to provide actual self-care. We understand that if we are exhausted, we cannot be our best selves in the classroom and in our personal lives.The goal of our center is to help teachers achieve excellent teaching standards. Healthy mental, physical and mental health.
In preparing for the meeting, we read many articles, including “A new way of thinking about work-life balance. “This became the focus of the challenge we posed to colleagues. We started our meeting and admitted that we had spent a long day on Zoom, not to mention a long year of adapting to online teaching. We asked teachers to write about them in the chat The way to take care of yourself. They mentioned items such as prayer, nap, exercise, eating healthy food, talking with friends, going out, etc. We see that teachers certainly know how to do it to stay healthy, but they often fail to make it a priority or even become reality.
We let them know that we understand all the roles they play in work, family, relationships and communities. We have identified the most precious “glass balls”. If we drop them, they will break, while the “plastic balls” will bounce and be picked up later. Then we remind them to consider what is urgent and what is important. Many people know this concept, but putting it into practice is a challenge.
Then, in order to give faculty and staff an opportunity to take care of the “glass ball”—acting on important rather than urgent matters—we asked them to engage in things that are important to their well-being within the next 30 minutes. Then they sent us an email to let us know what they did and how it promoted their self-care. We hope teachers can experience it and decide to make it a part of their daily lives-even if it is only half an hour.
Gift of time
response? We read emails from more than 150 faculty and staff about “How do I spend my winter vacation” and sincerely appreciate the opportunity to take care of ourselves. Many people mentioned walking or exercising on cold winter days. Others spent unexpected times with children, spouses, dogs and cats. (Include photos of dogs, babies, and art projects.) Others use these 30 minutes for reflection, prayer, and meditation.
Here are some memorable comments from a wide range of professors in all types of disciplines—including English, mathematics, languages, housing construction, and physical therapy—and they responded.
- “To be honest, I really want to work during this time because I actually have childcare assistance today, but I don’t have one. So this is what I did: Just before my 1-year-old took a nap, I went to kiss He, had a snack with my 3-year-old kid before he started to be quiet, and then took my dog for a 15-minute walk—only me and him.”
- “My dog and I walked 1.5 miles on the road. I really need to stay away from the computer and get some fresh air. Felt great! “
- “I spent 30 minutes doing some exercises and stretching exercises (while listening to music!), and then enjoying a quiet time while enjoying snacks (this is rare in my house). For the first time today, I felt energetic /Energetic and realize that spending this time on myself is vital to my happiness.”
- “This is not the’correct’ answer, but I took my time to complete the teaching of the virtual first-year course given to my son today. This may be counted as “urgent”, but if it makes you feel better, I am also very happy To be able to participate in the important learning he did this year, such as learning to read and master basic math concepts. If I don’t have to work, it’s my dream to teach him these things! In fact, it’s hard to take on both the first grade teaching and university teaching Duty, but I am grateful for the extra security that people with me bring at home.”
- “I took a book I was reading on the iPad, and then went to the treadmill in the basement. I have been neglecting enough physical exercise recently. I know I am busy today, so I have given up hope of having the opportunity to walk today. Permit, or rather a task, to spend 30 minutes doing this for me, I’m so happy.”
Because it was unexpected this time, the faculty and staff especially appreciated it. That is a gift. This is the secret: our time is always a gift. Every day, those of us engaged in higher education should purposefully meet our important needs, even if there is only a short time every day. Flower Darby Remind us that we should “plan time wisely”. We need to “make time (regularly) to unplug and charge.”
This is the lesson we learned from providing these 30 minutes-we also hope you will consider this lesson. This is an important factor in bringing our classrooms to the level that students deserve: only if we do, in fact, unplug and charge, can we provide an excellent level. Our students, our relatives and us are all worth the investment. So go ahead: only 30 minutes.