“The UP Way” of being here for our students is unparalleled. Done with our whole minds, hearts and souls, it can also take quite a toll on us. As we head into the amazing perk of Christmas Break, the Tweet version of this teaching tip is TAKE THE BREAK! The longer version is available in this brief article from the American Psychological Association. You’ve been told countless times on airplanes to put on your own oxygen mask before trying to help others. That goes for college instructors too! These are the 10 tips suggested by the APA:
- Eliminate stressors as possible–and it’s almost always possible to stay away from campus for a few days, go email-free for hours at a time.
- Cultivate social support–swap meals with a friend so you each get a night off from cooking. Say yes to an invitation or two to enjoy a cup of coffee or happy hour.
- Seek good nutrition–no particular diet is required here; just aim for a rainbow of colors on your plate. Maybe the long break gives you a chance to try new recipes or restaurants your can’t in the bustle of the semester.
- Relax your muscles–through stretches, a warm bath, a massage when the rest of the world is working.
- Meditate, pray, be mindful of a given moment–light a candle and allow yourself to be taken into its bright flame.
- Flex your muscles–a brisk walk to enjoy the lights in your neighborhood, perhaps? The research on the link between moderate enjoyable physical movement and de-stressing is unambiguous.
- Protect your sleep–just do it.
- Get out in nature–this one combines several other suggestions on this list, and we live in a part of the world where we are spoiled for choice on nature to enjoy.
- Choose your own pleasurable activities and do them— singalong to holiday songs while driving, binge-watch The Crown, savor a novel, paint some pottery.
- Reframe your thinking–If you feel yourself spiraling into imagining worst-case scenarios, stop and put your mind elsewhere. Set realistic expectations for yourself. Strive for acceptance of situations outside of your control. Here’s a novel way to disrupt harmful mental loops: alphabetize your favorite books or spice rack in your head.
You know this! None of these are rocket surgery, and it’s likely you dispense similar advice to your students when they are anxious. Take your own sage advice; you are every bit important as those worthy young souls you tend so conscientiously!