Too Much Self-Care?

By Megan Reilly

We talk about self-care in student affairs a lot. We tell our students to practice self-care and we tell each other as practitioners to practice self-care because we’re notorious for burning out.

But in reminding each other to care for ourselves, have we forgotten how to take care of someone else? Have we forgotten how to let someone in when maybe we could use a friend to lean on or take care of us?

I don’t mean our students… In most cases, they can take care of themselves and if not, their helicopter parents are probably doing it for them. But are we doing a good enough job as colleagues of taking care of each other? Do we even know what that means or how to do it?

Everyone handles difficult situations in different ways. Some people choose to move on and forget anything bad ever happened. Some people are emotional immediately, but recover faster because they were able to process the situation. But there are a million other ways to process something overwhelming and there are not very many that are wrong – but quite a few of them are difficult to do alone.

We've all faced something that has overwhelmed us in the course of our work, simply due to the nature of our work. Maybe you haven’t yet as a new professional or grad student – but odds are that you probably will. It doesn't have to be a tragedy. Anything even slightly out of the ordinary can overwhelm or upset a student affairs practitioner, simply because we are human. But if we are too focused on practicing self-care, are we going to see it as failing if our self-care isn’t enough? Is it actually causing us more harm than good to pretend we are all-powerful? Or are we doing a disservice to our team and to that colleague who is really struggling but not willing to admit it or look for help.

The beginning of the semester is a stressful time and the winter weather isn't helping much. So look around this week to see who might need a little extra care and kindness. Sometimes something as simple as “Are you okay?” is all it takes to make a world of difference.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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