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Be Kind To Yourself

child with messy hair, who appears upset and about to fall asleep at the table


Strange times.
 
Hey there. Alexandra again. What strange times we live in. I thought I'd check in about the ASCA Chats that we've been having. These chats have been a great place for our members to share what their universities are doing on different issues, what their departments are doing about different topics, and how administrators are handling particular situations. Quite frankly, although the topic may have initially started as one thing in particular—(like most things in higher education, the best-laid plans often go astray). These conversations have taken on lives of their own, and have resulted in conversations regarding other topics that weren't even necessarily where we started. I think that is beautiful.
 
The following Chats have taken place since the last time that I checked in: “International Students”, “Community Colleges”, and “Compassion Fatigue and Pushing Personal Momentum”.
 
It seemed that all of the topics so far led to the Chat below regarding Compassion Fatigue and Pushing Personal Momentum…. which is a fancy way to say “burnout” and “self-care”. It was almost as if the group recognition that was no matter the topic—we as student conduct professionals need support…the same way we give it. I am going to take some time to focus on this particular one.
 
Compassion Fatigue and Pushing Personal Momentum 
 
When the chat started, I began by listing some signs according to the following website (no, this is not peer-reviewed). The website, “Good Therapy” lists the following as signs: 
Compassion fatigue can take a physical, mental, spiritual, and emotional toll on people who experience it. Common symptoms of compassion fatigue include:

  • Chronic physical and emotional exhaustion 

  • Depersonalization

  • Feelings of inequity toward the therapeutic or caregiver relationship

  • Irritability

  • Feelings of self-contempt

  • Difficulty sleeping

  • Weight loss

  • Headaches

  • Poor job satisfaction

 
In the chat, we recognized that these things are real and show themselves in various ways- and that the list above is not exhaustive. People talked about things that they have done to help with this and more. Just as there are introverts and extroverts, as we discovered when being asked to quarantine when COVID initially began—there are those of us that get our energy back from attending lots of on-campus events with students and others of us, that feel that those events drain us. One of our members shared—that at their institution, their Dean of Students Office used things such as children's books (The Giving Tree) to make connections with each other and even designed their own staff's superhero comic books, and so much more. The creativity was truly amazing. One of our members talked about the importance of physical activity (if you are able- and in whatever way that looks like for you), but more importantly getting outside into nature was something that truly helped him. 
 
Here are a few things that I compiled that I'd like to share with you:
 
Make “Self-Care” a part of your routine. It is important to recognize that the same way that we have appointments on our calendars for everyone around us that we hold to… make those same appointments for yourself. 
 
Look at what you consider to be self-care. (Truthfully, this is going to be different for everyone- some people it may be face masks and pedicures, others it may be therapy, others it may be taking the time to clean and rearrange your work area, or read a book). Maybe it is painting, cooking, etc. … It looks different for everyone. Don't try to make someone else's self-care work for you… if it doesn't. Also, recognize that if something isn't working—it is okay to try something else. 
 
Give yourself grace. We tend to be understanding with our students—extend that same grace with yourself. 
 
Connect with others and create community. We recognize in higher education and student affairs—that community is so valuable. We encourage our students to connect with those around them in residence halls, groups on campus, and so much more—we have to remember to do the same. It might be helping out colleagues at our campus, maybe connecting with other members within our association, finding community outside of the profession- whatever that looks like for you and your comfort level. Or all of it is great together and at the same time, too. 
 
Acknowledge the wins. We often focus on things we don't complete correctly. Remember to celebrate the wins no matter how small you think it is. It is a win. There was a podcast that I enjoyed from Dylan Marron that was out at the beginning of COVID, where he had people writing amazing speeches for wins such as not pressing snooze on their alarm clock that morning. I included the link below.
 
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-triumph-big-speech/id1507811224
 
Also. No. is a complete sentence. 
 
This particular chat…. It was my personal favorite. Remember that through all that you are asked to do, you are human. I think that we often forget that, with all of the duties that are assigned that are given to us. You can't show up for others without showing up for yourself first.
 
Okay, that is all for now.
 
Let's connect on the interwebs.
 
-Dr. H
 
**Disclaimer, this blog is not to be used for any type of medical advice.
 
Sources:
 
https://www.goodtherapy.org/blog/psychpedia/compassion-fatigue
 
https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/small-triumph-big-speech/id1507811224
 

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