Here we are four months into the new year! Where do I even begin? Normally, the new year represents a universal reset to our goals, habits... and oh yes, we can’t forget tax season. Yet, we find ourselves somewhere in between the politically tense climate, frustration, grief, and loneliness. This is on top of our everyday stress. So, I ask our student affairs professionals, where do we go from here? In 2021, I encourage you to make time for your recovery in what seems to be an ongoing crisis.
If I had a dollar for every time I told a student, “You can’t pour from an empty cup,” I could make a dent in my student loans! Now I direct this to you reading this right now: You can’t pour from an empty cup. Although these recommendations may not alleviate all of your stress, it is a small step in the right direction for your mental well-being.
1. Learning moments - Specifically, I am referring to learning moments as a positive or negative outcome of any situation that should be openly and freely shared to benefit all (Source: https://thelearningmoment.net/welcome-to-learning-moment/). The unknown moments we tackle this year are uncharted territory. Share your experience! Reflect on your thought process and navigation through the ever-changing policies, virtual office hours, or family/home life adjustments. Put it down on paper or a digital diary. Reach out to your Knowledge Community for opportunities to support your own blog post like this one! Regardless of the outcome of your latest challenge, the community will benefit from hearing your story. Recognizing your journey is the end goal.
2. Maintaining professional boundaries while fatigued - Fill in the blanks. “My closest working relationships with ________, ________, and ________ have caused me stress most recently.” After recognizing these individuals, the real work begins. Decide what boundaries you need for each of your relationships to return to a healthy balance. With close relationships, it’s easy for the lines of your personal boundaries to blur. You will find yourself not using the magical word of no. Dr. Senem Eren so cleverly states that we feel completed to “turn down the volume of our no.” (Source: https://youtu.be/jPTARhWEZZw. With stress levels at all-time highs, our fatigue speaks for itself to revisit and establish boundaries, especially with those closest to you.
3. Who helps the helper? - Protect yourself in crisis! As Student Affairs practitioners, we have a chance to practice what we preach by saving the following phone numbers in your cell.
1. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
2. LGBT National Hotline: 888-843-4564
3. National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
4. National Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-656-HOPE (4673)
5. Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline: 1-800-422-4453
6. Adult Abuse Hotline: 1-800-222-8000
7. Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-8255
8. Your local COVID hotline, family services, hospital, police department, and emergency services
9. Don’t forget your support system (friends or family). Star these contacts in your phone so they appear on a Favorites tab for fast dialing
The field of student affairs will forever be affected by this COVID crisis. Take this time of uncertainty and transition for yourself as it is necessary for your long-term healing and moving forward in a positive direction. Remember you have to fill your cup before you can fill others. Prioritize your wellness. You will be glad you did.