The conventional separation of “work” and “life” in academia encourages faculty to ignore or even actively undermine their well-being. This week, we feature several publications that extol the need to prioritize self-care in higher education.
Although work-life balance is important for all academics, certain groups face more emotional fatigue from microaggressions, relentless inequities and the struggles for social justice that can affect well-being and increase the need for self-care.
A recent study in the Journal of Diversity in Higher Education (JDHE) — featuring women pre-tenure faculty of color (WFOC) — found that all of them reported stress and associated negative mental and physical health issues. Reported self-care activities included meditation, exercise and time with family and friends. Such self-care practices contribute to building resilience in the face of ongoing challenges. For those engaged in advocacy and change efforts, Kerry Ann Rockquemore from the National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity offers radical self-care strategies for mind, body and spirit such as “regular rage” practices to expunge residual feelings and intentional expressions of joy and gratitude.
While acknowledging the value of self-care, the JDHE study emphasized “the need for greater accountability on the part of universities [regarding] the mental and physical distress […] described.” We call attention to these publications and the publications listed below because they argue for a shift in the culture of academe that accepts the value of well-being and care as integral to the intellectual and disciplinary work of the academy. ADVANCE has promoted inclusive, collective practices of care across our campus community and we encourage institutional and community recognition of self-care as critical and necessary to the quality of professional work, to the long-term productivity of individuals, and to campus life.
A sampling of additional recent publications on this topic:
- An essay in Edutopia asserts that work/life “balance” is a myth because faculty careers entail differing and dynamic priorities.
- An essay in Inside Higher Ed reports on a variety of strategies for re-energizing during the workday.
- Two recent, edited books advance strategies for well-being, many involving physical movement, creative expression or scaffolded collaborations that can be integrated into academic writing and research routines; see “Creative Expression and Wellbeing in Higher Education” (Routledge, 2022) and “Healthy Relationships in Higher Education: Promoting Wellbeing Across Academe” (Routledge, 2021).
Today’s feature was shared with us by the ADVANCE PI Team. If you have an article you think we should feature, please email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and we will consider adding it to the ADVANCE Weekly Roundup.
The ADVANCE Weekly Roundup is brought to you by ADVANCE at Michigan Tech, an NSF-funded initiative dedicated to improving faculty career success, retention, diversity, equity and inclusion. Past articles are available on the ADVANCE Newsblog.