Updated: Aug 26
The various aspects of our lives have their own set of responsibilities that must be fulfilled in order for us to be successfully involved in them.
Some of these responsibilities are multi-functional, meaning that they are not exclusive to one aspect of our lives. For example, punctuality is a responsibility that positively serves us in our spaces of employment, our social connections, and our academic endeavors. In each of the aforementioned contexts, one’s ability to be “on time” indicates their understanding of the parameters that have been set for that context and their respect for the individuals with whom they are interacting.
Although I am no stranger to responsibilities, current circumstances have impacted the manner in which I was able to embrace and implement them. In addition to being a K-12 educator, I began a graduate program at the start of this academic school year (August 2020). Not only was I teaching remotely, I was learning remotely. I consider myself an effective educator because I also know how to be a student. However, I found myself re-learning how to both give and receive instruction because of the foreign platform that I was newly dependent upon. As I worked to navigate lesson planning, grading, parent communication, etc., I was simultaneously experiencing these components in the passenger seat, as a pupil.
Here is what I have learned about managing multiple responsibilities and making time for self-care.
1. Only commit to what you are sure you have the capacity to complete. This is important in your professional, personal, and academic lives. Sometimes the pressure of wanting to maintain a certain reputation takes over and makes “no” seem like an impossible response. However, when communicated appropriately, saying “no” can help you to create the flexibility that you require in your schedule to prevent you from experiencing burnout. Being open to saying “no” and increasing my awareness of my communication skills have made all the difference in the world this year.
2. It is okay to accept help. Asking for assistance is not a marker of incompetence. Collaboration is oftentimes more efficient than working solo. Being aware of when you need help and taking the steps to get it, show that you are capable of understanding and respecting your limits. The collaborative input that you get when you ask for help can even help you develop, both personally and professionally. Bottom line; there is strength in being able to recognize when an extra pair of hands or eyes will maximize the quality of your intended outcome, tap into that power source.
3. Find a healthy outlet or coping mechanism to indulge in. This can be meditating, reading for pleasure (especially helpful when assigned readings seem to take precedence in our lives throughout the semester), exercising, or any other genuinely enjoyable hobby. I have a book of poems that I like to pick up when I am in the mood to consume literature that is lighthearted, yet thought-provoking.
4. Get into the habit of identifying and repeating effective and affective affirmations daily. Maintaining an optimistic and cheerful mindset often secures productivity. Some people place their affirmations on notes around their home, and others like to repeat them out loud like mantras. I found it particularly helpful to save my favorite affirmation as my lock screen image. Let’s be honest, our phones are probably the one piece of technology that we interact with most on any given day.
5. Get your rest. This may seem redundant, but as an undergraduate student, I cannot tell you how many times I pulled all-nighters because of procrastination. I have personally found that my procrastination is the result of low energy due to insufficient amounts of rest. One way to be motivated is to give your body exactly what it needs. If you listen closely, your body will tell you what it is lacking. Pushing yourself beyond your point of exhaustion will have dire consequences down the line. Establish a bedtime and stick to it. If you are working and feel the need to take a moment for yourself (even if it is just a quick stretch or a snack) do it.
Responsibilities do not just benefit others, they are valuable to you as well. We owe it to ourselves to create routines that align with our interests, goals, and abilities. These routines help us account for and protect our time, and establish necessary boundaries for others to acknowledge and adhere to. Do yourself a favor, do not feel confined by your responsibilities. Be empowered by them and shine.