Self Care and Maintaining the Work-Life Balance

Student affairs is not your typical 40 hour work week. At 5 pm, we do not get to get in our cars, drive home, and forget about work until the next day. In fact, most of us only have to walk across campus to get home. As a result, there is a lot of talk about “burn out” among new (and even seasoned) professionals. I’ve got a few days until the madness of move in starts, and I think now is a great time to reflect on maintaining the work-life balance.

What have you done for YOU this week?

This is a question in the weekly report I give to my RAs. I want to know what they are doing to keep themselves happy. Everybody needs “me” time. I personally like comfort food (mac and cheese) and watching terrible TV shows. I also get a sense of accomplishment from finishing a crafting project. Other people like playing video games or baking or seeing a movie. A lot of times, we’ll do these things automatically. I almost always watch an episode of a show before going to bed. During busy weeks, we might forget that we did these little things if we don’t stop for a moment and reflect on our week. Another way to ensure you are getting some “me” time is to schedule it. You have plenty of other meetings on your calendar. Set aside some time for you.

Stay healthy and fit!

Take advantage of the gym and the fitness classes on your campus. My department goes to the same yoga class each week. It’s nice to do something with everybody that isn’t work related. Also, I’ve learned that my schedule doesn’t correspond with student schedules (remember what sleeping in felt like?) so there are some wonderful moments where the gym isn’t packed. One advantage to living on campus is you have this wonderful place to walk around. Walk on the paths and stairs around campus for a change of scenery.

Speak up!

Every one on one, my supervisor asks if I’m handling everything okay. That’s awesome, I have a supervisor that gets just how demanding this job can be because she’s been in my place. Not everybody is that lucky. I told her that if I was every starting to feel overwhelmed, I would let her know. If you are starting to feel worn down, let your supervisor know. Some situations in the residence halls can keep you up late dealing with unpleasant things. You shouldn’t be afraid to ask your boss if it’s okay to sleep in a bit. And this brings me to my next point…

Use time off wisely!

I know it sounds amazing to think that you can accrue X weeks off and take some fabulous vacation and be gone for the entire time. No, that’s not going to happen. If you have enough money for said vacation, please let me know how you earned that. Also, nobody is going to like you if you are gone for weeks at time. Instead, use a little bit here and there. Starting to feel burned out? Take a personal day. Make it a Friday or Monday so you can have a long weekend. Starting to feel sick? Use a sick day, that’s what they are for! Plan actual vacations…a cruise with friends, a beach resort with your family. You can take vacations, they just shouldn’t be two or three weeks long.

What are some other ways that you maintain the work-life balance? Do you have any goals for personal things to do this year? Any fun upcoming vacations? Actually, don’t tell me about those, I haven’t started accruing vacation time yet.

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