Self Care for Faculty: Four Ways to Cope When Teaching in Hard Times

It has been a difficult challenge for faculty to convert their face-to-face courses to online instruction and begin preparing for a reality unlike any that have faced. An added burden is that faculty are doing so at a time of such strife, with a pandemic prompting an unprecedented global lockdown, and heightened frustration over injustice. The past few months have left many feeling anxious, stressed, and exhausted. As we look forward to the fall, here are four ways to cope:

1. Take care of yourself

You'll know best what self-care looks like for you, but there are some steps that will benefit anyone. Get enough sleep. Make an effort to eat healthily. Go for walks, if you can find a route without too many other people. Take some time away from your laptop and phone (read a book, call a friend, meditate, bake something!); it's important to unplug when you can.

2. Reach out to a colleague

One thing lost when campus closed has been regular contact with colleagues. Teaching can be lonely work in the best of times; it is really hard in isolation. A sense of community can help keep you afloat. Make the effort to get in touch with a fellow faculty member, see how they're doing, and compare notes on how you're weathering the crisis. 

3. Set clear work limits.

Remember to separate your work life from your personal life. End your day when you normally would. Don't answer emails all day and night. Think about setting up a particular space in which to work and then walk away from it to play with the kids, walk the dog, or just kick back with Netflix. Working remotely does not mean working all the time!

4. Check in on your students.

It's a good bet that your students may be feeling disconnected and worn-out too. Even a single email that expresses care for your students, and asks them how they're doing, can signal to them that they're not alone. Think about being flexible and responsive to their needs in whatever ways are possible. Show students that you care about them and that you understand that this disruption might have sent them for a loop.

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