Often many of us in Residential Life take care of the people who are around us all the time. We often don’t focus on taking care of ourselves until we are sick. By taking care of ourselves we will have more to offer to all other parts of our lives. Below are some suggestions for taking care of yourself in the midst of the work you do.
1.Take the time to try different things outside of work. Try new things outside of work. Play more. Try to write. Try to dance. Take singing or theater lessons. Take guitar lessons. Join a volleyball league. Swim with a master’s team. Run with the local club. Climb. Bike. Throw a Frisbee around and check out the parks in your area. Check out the cultural events in the area. Get off campus. Make friends off campus.
2. Try new things at work or do what you do differently. Try to do different things in your own area. Pull in new ideas from websites, journal articles, peers, friends from other schools, and conferences. Do it differently, it may help you to find new joy in what you do.
3. Build relationships across campus. Volunteer to help different departments with their activities. Get a glimpse of their world and build relationships with colleagues outside of your area so you will have allies to help you through the hard times.
4.Find your passion(s) or rediscover them. Often times we forget what attracted us into this type of work. Remember what your passion with your job is and focus on it. Feel good about it. If you can’t find your passion in your current situation, take the time to reflect and discover what really excites you and makes you feel meaningful. Then go do your passion.
5.Make the stuff that makes you happy a habit. Sometimes the things that we love doing are the first to go when stressful situations seem to take over our lives. Write down the things you love doing. Your list should contain the activities that make you feel the most relaxed and comfortable. They should include the things that make you laugh, think, love, and grow. Incorporate those things into your life and commit to them just like you would a job. For instance if walking, writing in your journal, taking photos, doing yoga, dancing, or molding clay make you happy, fit it in to your life and do it weekly! Commit to the happy stuff just like you would a meeting.
6.Establish a purpose. Find out what you want to accomplish with your life. Take time alone to reflect. Write down your own mission statement and reevaluate it each year. Make sure that all your choices personal and professional are in line with your mission. The more we live in line with what is really important to us, the clearer our choices become, and the happier we are.
7.Define your own success. In this day of huge salaries all around us, it sometimes is hard to remember why we are doing this work. On the other hand if you define what really matters to you and define your own success, then you bring validity to what you do. Don’t allow others to define what really matters. What you do is important. You help others all the time. You help others to help others. You are making a difference in the development of young adults. You are making a difference in the success of your department. Feel good about your successes.
8.Bring love and compassion to work. OK, it sounds crazy, but it works. In this busy world it is rare for people to stop and show they care. So many of the students in our resident halls are screaming for love and compassion. They may be showing it in ways that you don’t appreciate because they make you wake up in the middle of the night, force you to confront them, force you to document, or add to your judicial pile. Even many of our staff are coming from homes where people didn’t treat them so nice. This is our opportunity to reframe how we confront and how we reach out to students. Carefronting, where we confront with compassion, allows us to confront the behavior while showing concern for the person. It can help make what we do much less taxing on our souls.
9.See the good in the little things of each day. Often we get so hung up on the latest crisis or negative thing that happened that we forget to notice the good all around us. Try to wake up and commit to see the positive in your day. Think about the good parts of your health. Think about the beauty in the weather of the day. Think about the nature around you. If there is not too much nature around you, think of the amazing architecture around you. You get the idea. Sometimes it is the in thing to complain about everything. Don’t join in. It is not taking care of yourself. Drowning in the negativity forces you to ignore the great things in your life. Instead, slow down and notice the beautiful buildings, flowers, sunlight, smiles, and laughter around you.
10.Capture the good and put it all around you in your work and living space. In your workspace, hang up the items that soothe your soul when things are crazy. The ocean, the mountains, my family, my friends, teddy bears, smiley faces and bright flowers make me content. I have photos and pictures in my office where I can see them. When things get crazy, I look at them and smile. As I am handling an unpleasant situation, I can glance up at the things that really matter and I relax. It also reminds me that Life is more than the work. I put things in perspective. The picture of the ocean on a nice summer day always eases my tension and I relax. You may want to consider lighting that adjusts to your needs and sounds that relax you and make you feel good as well. The miniature waterfalls are quite soothing too and make any room relaxing.
11. Simplify your life. Do what matters and get rid of the rest. Don’t just fill your life with business. Take time away to laugh, relax, and enjoy the things that really matter to you. Get rid of the clutter in your life. Don’t own everyone else’s problems. Figure out what is yours and focus on your needs. Do the essence of what really matters and what really makes you happy. Delegate the rest away!
Submitted by Cathy Raynis, Director of Residential Life at Iona College