Insights from Faculty and Staff

Director of Programming for the Roszā, Mary Jennings answered the following questions about self-care:

  • What do you like to do after a long day to relax?

Sleep! If it’s been a long day, I’m usually wiped out. The thought of adding anything to my to-do list, even in the name of self-care, is unappealing when I’m mentally or physically exhausted. On those days, the kindest thing I can do for myself is prioritize sleep.

  • Do you have any favorite books/podcasts/music that helps you get in the right headspace?

Listening to music, all kinds, is so cathartic. I’ve been listening to a lot of Lianne La Havas and Florence and the Machine lately. Before that I was listening to a lot of jazz. Spotify is a treasure trove and there is so much good music out there to discover. Mixing up what you listen to is a great way to shift into a new headspace.

  • How do you listen to your body? What signs tell you that it’s time to take a breather or let yourself recharge?

Start by feeling your breath – feeling it in your nose, in your chest, and in your ribs as you breathe in and out. Pause and concentrate on how it physically feels as you breathe. Then expand your awareness to notice whether you are clenching your jaw, or holding tension in your hands or neck or anywhere else in your body.

Listening to your body can also mean noticing your aches and pains, or paying attention to your emotions. For me, minor aches are usually reminders that I need to drink more water. Making sure your body is adequately hydrated is an often overlooked self care practice.

  • What do you like to do to recharge?

My first priority is making sure my most basic needs are met – nutritious food, enough water, enough sleep. If I’m still feeling a little drained or crispy I try to prioritize some alone time. This can look like taking yourself for a walk, reading a book, doing some yoga or simply laying on the floor staring out the window.

  • Do you have any advice for setting intentions or creating routines?

Start small and commit. The discipline of following through with your intention or goal can be uncomfortable, but also, know that you can do it. See setbacks as opportunities to resolve to keep at it, to try again next time. For instance, if your intention is to wake up 15 minutes earlier each day, but you happen to sleep in one morning, that’s okay. You can still wake up 15 minutes earlier tomorrow, you don’t have to throw out your goal because you didn’t make a permanent change immediately. Or maybe your intention is to be mindful of negative self-talk, or to gossip less. When you eventually get caught in a negative thought about yourself, or you notice that you are fixating on other people instead of yourself, don’t beat yourself up over the slip. Instead, can you acknowledge that your ability to be aware of the slip is a sign that you’re making progress? This can help you stay motivated and keep going.

  • Are there any spaces on campus that are nice and quiet, that allow for clearing one’s mind?

Yes, the Tech Trails! We are so lucky to have beautiful, spacious trails right here on campus. Being in nature is proven to reduce stress, and there are so many mental and physical health benefits to getting outside.

  • Do you have any advice for people who are new to yoga or mindfulness/meditation practices?

You’re off to a good start simply because you’re open to trying something new. When you’re just starting to meditate, do yoga or practice other forms of self care you might feel unsure if it’s “working.” Making time to tend to your physical and mental health is so important and patience is key when you’re first starting out. Be patient with your body by not stretching yourself too far too fast, and be patient with your mind if you find you’re constantly getting distracted or losing focus.

  • What do you wish you’d known or done in college that you know now? Or, what’s a piece of advice you have for your college-self?

It feels like you’re crazy busy (and you are) but this phase of life goes by so fast. Enjoy your friendships and make new ones frequently. Learn to be a beginner by trying new things often – you won’t be good at all of them and that is part of the fun (it’s also a really valuable lesson to learn – how to be okay with being bad at new things). Learn who you are, what you care about and what you value. This is a time to discover yourself.


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