Finishing up the academic year isn’t the same flavor as past years. We’ve had a taste of a much different year and there’s no better time than the moment to reflect on what was accomplished, set aside, or re-imagined. With the spring sun comes a deep breath out, then pause, and inhale hope for the opportunities ahead.
Start with a 3 Breath Reset
At the start of each session of the Living in a Daring Way course, Lisa Laughman helps participants pause for a three breath reset. This practice is common in mindfulness-based stress reduction courses. Try this short technique to help you refocus and recenter yourself.
- First breath: focus on your breath coming in and leaving your body.
- Second breath: notice your tension in your body on the inhale. On the exhale take a more relaxed position.
- Third breath: on the inhale try to connect to your deepest wisest self. On the exhale stay with your deepest wisest self and acknowledge that part of yourself.
Learn from Lisa Laughman, LMSW & ACSW in Health4U and the Employee Assistance Program.
Season with Gratitude
“Throughout my career, I have found myself committed to appreciating the contributions of my colleagues, and the communities we served. Whether it was uplifting the stories of others or building structures to support gratitude sharing, giving thanks and holding space to appreciate others has been a constant,” said learning designer Makena Neal in a recent piece, Gratitude and the Culture of Care.
There’s evidence to support the importance of gratitude in the workplace. Practicing gratitude has significant impacts on positive affective well-being, can also promote kindness and generosity, and highlights our connection to one another. Moreover, triggers that inspire state gratitude, such as letters of appreciation, as well as institutionalized gratitude have been found to be predictors of job satisfaction.
At MSU, you can formally Thank an Educator. You can also nominate your supervisor/administrator for this year’s Outstanding Supervisor Award by July 31, 2022. Anywhere you are you can send an email, verbally share your gratitude or send a token of appreciation. A small amount of gratitude can make a huge impact. So… who will you thank today?
Reflect on Accomplishments
Take a look at your personal accomplishments - not just the big hurray moments, but the moments of holding peace, wrapping up a long-tail project, and even finishing a very hard academic year. Sometimes survival is a success. Life isn’t just about reaching higher and higher peaks, sometimes it's about moving through the valleys, and just reaching a resting place is an endeavor worth honoring.
You can choose to track your professional success
Often, after speaking with people, I learn how much more they actually have to offer than what shows up on their resume or LinkedIn profile. Here in the WorkLife Office, I do career consultations for faculty and staff. I have worked with faculty, executives, and staff members of all levels. In the end, the same advice and encouragement comes out:
- By thinking through your impact and accomplishments, you can have a better sense of your contribution to your workplace.
- You can have a better sense of yourself.
- You can reflect on things you have done where you used your skills to the best of your ability.
- You can reflect on projects or positions where you felt “meh” and it wasn’t the best fit for you.
- You can also reflect on what skills, experience, and abilities you have that are not getting utilized.
The Three Levels of Praxis: A Model for Reflection on Teaching
Written by E. Cuevas, educator in WRAC, the article draws on what Paulo Freire called praxis, or reflection and action. “A belief in praxis accepts that we are both instructors and learners; we have much to learn from our students. Engaging in reflection is an important part of figuring out how to align your goals, with your teaching, with your research, and your place in your institution. In this post, I will continue to reflect on my personal positioning to offer a model for reflection and I will do this by meditating on my positionality on three levels: the personal, the classroom, and the institutional,” wrote E. Cuevas
Give it Time
The Well-being at Work Guide sheds insights on taking time away from work, in the forms of breaks, vacation time, or strengthening boundaries around employees’ workdays, is important. Taking breaks throughout the workday has benefits for both the employee and the organization, but many employees often neglect to take them. Skipping breaks can lead to faster burnout and higher stress levels. Employees stepping away from work for a few minutes increases their productivity, job satisfaction, mental health and wellbeing, in addition to restoring their motivation (Kohll, 2018; Selig, 2017).
Taking a break from work increases focus when employees return to work, thus improving their productivity. Additionally, taking breaks relieves some stress, which helps employees’ mental health and wellbeing. These factors contribute to increased job satisfaction (Kohll, 2018).
Learn from Nature
Nature can positively affect employees. There is evidence that time spent outdoors boosts people's wellbeing, and even five minutes of time in nature can improve mental health. Spending time outside benefits people because breathing fresh air increases oxygen intake and allows the lungs to work at their full capacity (Sandborn, 2018). Exposure to vitamin D from the sun boosts people's moods, too. Time outside also can reduce employees’ chronic stress, physical and social stressors. These benefits are at their strongest when experiencing 21 to 30 minutes of nature time (Hunter, Gillespie, & Chen, 2019).
Beronda Montgomery talks "Lessons from Plants"
Beronda L. Montgomery explores the vigorous, creative lives of organisms often treated as static and predictable. In fact, plants are masters of adaptation. They “know” what and who they are, and they use this knowledge to make a way in the world. Plants experience a kind of sensation that does not require eyes or ears. They distinguish kin, friend, and foe, and they are able to respond to ecological competition despite lacking the capacity of fight-or-flight. Plants are even capable of transformative behaviors that allow them to maximize their chances of survival in a dynamic and sometimes unfriendly environment.
Grow in Your Own Way
However you reflect, disconnect, recharge and rejuvenate this summer; do it in the way that works best for you. Try new things or shut out the world for a few hours at a time. Explore new skills, areas, and ideas, or retreat to your own quiet place to let your mind wander. Plot your next year or reflect solidly on the past. Remember all the challenges you’ve overcome, the people you met, and the opportunities you’ve discovered.