Practice What We Preach: Self Care

by Olivia Miller

While at NACADA last week, what started as a typical sinus infection turned into a horrible wracking cough, perhaps even bronchitis? I spent the weekend coughing and trying to catch up on sleep and headed to work Monday morning as if nothing was wrong. However, I was sicker than I realized, and my coworkers sent me home. Tuesday morning rolls around and I pretended that I was better and not having trouble breathing or taking five minutes without coughing, because I needed to be at work! It was no surprise that after my first appointment wrapping up at 9:00 a.m. I was sent home again. While I was not feeling my best, I was more concerned with keeping up at work than taking care of myself.

Self-care is discussed so often in our profession, but easily dismissed when actually put to practice. On both Monday and Tuesday I had a shift of walk-in appointments with 4-5 appointments each day as well. Although I felt a responsibility to my students, my coworkers were easily able to rearrange our schedules, and everything worked out fine. I quickly realized that it is okay, and necessary to focus on myself before my students. They did not specifically need me, at least sick me, to discuss their next semester courses, what was needed was for me to rest and get healthy.

All of this being said, I was still upset and frustrated for having to leave work, and even a little embarrassed for being sent home. Why is it in our society we have such a need to pour so much of ourselves into our work? It drains us, in my case makes me even sicker, and ultimately gives us unrealistic expectations of being a hard worker bee. It does nothing to wear ourselves out, it does not help our students, and it does not help us. This experience was a wake-up call for me again to focus on myself first before my students, sometimes it really is necessary. So as we move through fall and head into winter, take care of yourself and your health and make that self-care a reality rather than just a discussion point. After all, we cannot expect our students to practice self-care if we ourselves do not.

Student Affairs - the First Years

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