Monday, April 1, 2024

     Today I sat in the waiting room with my tween daughter, hurrying from home to be on time. Normally, I pull out my phone and read endless work emails or scroll through another high-drama news story. 

Sound familiar? I feel like I am a hamster on a wheel, worried if I slow down, I may not be as put together as I hope to be.

I stepped off the “wheel” and looked at her ever growing, sweet face. I listened to her tell stories about her friends, teacher, and the next social dilemma she was pondering. Fifteen wonderful minutes without chores, homework, or email. We laughed and shared stories. When her name was called, she held my hand, and she wasn’t embarrassed as she walked toward the nurse. Smiling the whole way. My heart soared. 

“Self-care” sometimes feels like something I need to plan or clearly identify as time for myself. But it can be so simple. There are many precious moments when you can pause to fill your bucket or at least jump off the wheel.

  • Give yourself grace. We don’t have to do it all.
  • Take a mental health day, don’t wait for the next holiday break or summer. You don’t need physical symptoms to justify taking care of yourself. A mental health day isn’t weakness or being “unwell.” It is a position of health and self-care. Embrace it.
  • Practice mindfulness: Be present. Multi-tasking only allows us to be partially involved in several things.  
  • Adjust your expectations. Maybe for today, maybe for the next year. 
  • Practice self-care with someone else. Step outside for a quick walk, shut off the computer, or walk to a colleague’s office or classroom to just say hello.
  • Validate.  We don’t always need to teach or fix. Sometimes we just need to listenThis is my favorite teaching video
  • Find your happy. Know what brings you joy and do more of it. What did you enjoy 10 years ago? 5 years ago? What have you always wanted to try? Do it. 
  • Time is precious, take advantage of telehealth therapy and doctor’s appointments. Better yet, take the time away from the screen to see someone in person. Connect.

The Employee Assistance Program is dedicated to supporting the well-being of our faculty, staff, postdocs, and medical residents with confidential, short-term counseling; consultation for supervisors; and referral to community resources. For more information, resources, or to schedule an appointment, visit the UI EAP web page.

Cover image by Oleg Illarionov.