Self Care for Housing Professionals

by Jill Swanson

It has been a long and tiring 2 years for all professionals working on a college or university campus. As we begin to prepare for a new semester, it is crucial to support our staff in finding ways to properly care for themselves and find time of healing.

Many housing professionals have not been able to take a break since March of 2020. Not only has there been increased job responsibilities with many times live in staff members and cleaning staff being the only ones on campus, but the added pressures from all that is occurring in society and outside of the walls of a university is making an already challenging job all that much harder. And while mental health concerns are increasing across the country, college campuses aren’t immune with the first responders many times being housing professionals. Based on a student completed by the Kaiser Family Foundation in February of 2021, 56.2% of young adults from ages 18-24 shared having symptoms of anxiety and/or depression (Panchal, Kamal, Cox, & Garfield, 2021).

In order for anyone, but especially housing professionals, to continue to support others and be successful they need to work to commit to and develop a self-care plan. It seems so often that “self-care” can be a term that is thrown around to tell people they should take a vacation day or have a relaxing night in. However, individuals need to move past using it as a buzzword and actually define what self-care is to them.

Self-care is not one size fits all and isn’t something that can be figured out overnight. Each individual needs to reflect on what rejuvenates them both inside and outside of the work environment. There are different aspects of self-care including, but limited to; workplace or professional, physical, psychological, emotional, spiritual, and relationship (ReachOut Australia, 2021). Folks can think about these different aspects of self-care and see if there are things they can in each to create a well-rounded and holistic self-care plan.  Examples have been taken from ReachOut Australia and can be found below:

Workplace or Professional Self-Care

–          Speak with your supervisor about a professional development plan or receive feedback

–          Create strict boundaries with peers, fellow staff members, and students

–          Look for professional development opportunities

Physical Self-Care

–          Eat healthier and ensure you take proper lunch breaks

–          Create a sleep schedule

–          Find ways to incorporate a physical activity such as going for a walk

–          Use your sick time when you don’t feel well  

Psychological Self-Care

–          Journal

–          Find a hobby or something you enjoy outside of work

–          Don’t look at or respond to work emails when you’re not working

–          Find time for positive interactions with friends, family, and colleagues

Emotional Self-Care

–          Find supportive friendships

–          Write down good things you did each day

–          Talk to friends regularly

Spiritual Self-Care

–          Try meditation

–          Reflect on past experiences

–          Try yoga

–          Attend religious services that you find comfort in

Relationship Self-Care

–          Prioritize relationships that are close and not stressful

–          Attend events with friends and family

–          Make sure to leave work on time

As you look at how you can plan to practice self-care in many of these areas, it is also worth taking the time to see what could be a road block in being successful in your self-care (ReachOut Australia, 2021).

Going into what is hopefully a slower time should can give staff the opportunity to focus on their wellbeing and care as we prepare for a new semester and new year.

References:

Reachout.com. “Developing a Self-Care Plan.” Reachout.com, ReachOut Australia, 2019,

schools.au.reachout.com/articles/developing-a-self-care-plan. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

Panchal, Nirmita, et al. “The Implications of COVID-19 for Mental Health and Substance Use.” The

Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, 10 Feb. 2021, http://www.kff.org/coronavirus-covid-19/issue-brief/the

implications-of-covid-19-for-mental-health-and-substance-use/. Accessed 1 Dec. 2021.

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