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Harvard Business Review: Dear Caregiver, Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

Part of WiFi (What I Find Interesting) Wednesday.


Harvard Business Review: Dear Caregiver, Are You Taking Care of Yourself?

Read Dear Caregiver, Are You Taking Care of Yourself? by Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar, from Harvard Business Review, April 28, 2021.

The effects of the pandemic are far from over. Even with millions of vaccinated adults in the US, there are still many more who are not fully vaccinated or who have other health worries to consider. Those living with any type of anxiety disorder may continue to ruminate and sit in their worries for some time. And there is the unknown to consider – what is going to happen next?

Even those of us with any reasonable capabilities is running low on energy. And yet, we still need to continue to take care of ourselves. The author, Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar, reminds us that we must also prioritize ourselves, even when those around us are sick and need our help:

For so long, I’d thought of my emotions as obstacles that I needed to overcome as if they were internal conflicts with clear and tidy resolutions. The truth is that I was exhausted and scared. I needed a lot of sleep. I was also angry about the way things were turning out in my life. In my state of fatigue, I decided to give in and, finally, talk about it. And talking felt really good.

by Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar, from Harvard Business Review, April 28, 2021.

We need to continue to think about the caregivers, even as the vaccines roll out across the US.

[S]ince the pandemic, it’s been especially harder for young people. In the global survey conducted by Merck KGaA, 77% of caregivers ages 18 to 34 said the pandemic has made them feel more burned out than ever before, compared to 57% of caregivers aged 65 and older. Eighty-nine percent said they put the needs of the person they’re caring for over their own, and financially, 22% said they had to reduce their working hours to fulfill caregiving responsibilities.

If you’re in the role of a caregiver now, or will be on in the future, the author offers the following suggestions:

It’s okay to ask for help. 

Asking for help makes me feel vulnerable, something I’m not always comfortable with. But this time around, I didn’t have a choice. I was clueless about a lot of things: How much of my father’s expenses would insurance cover? How do we access the banking services of a deceased person? How do I take care of someone with Covid while staying safe?

Take a break from work. Immediately. 

I had just got back to work after a week of sick leave when my grandfather passed away. Then, I took a couple of personal days off. To reach out again and ask for more time wasn’t the easiest. I remember struggling to write a message to my boss because I wasn’t sure how to talk about the situation “professionally.” I wondered if I should lead with the most recent events or talk about my state of mind.

Sharing personal information at work can feel tricky, but losing a loved one or falling sick is a part of life. The reality is, we will all experience them at some point. Personally, reaching out for support from my managers made it easier to articulate what I needed and clarify expectations.

Share the chores at home, if possible. 

This is tough when you’re a young caregiver or live with older folks who may need extra support. But apart from the physical labor of cooking, cleaning, and running the house, there’s also the emotional labor that you will be taking on.

Remember that everyone is tired, and no one is at their best. Even if your family is normally amiable, there will likely be more misunderstandings, arguments, and words misfired than usual. What helped my own family cope with our individual emotions was sharing the responsibilities.

Hang on to the ones who make you feel supported. 

I had a couple of friends who checked in with me every day, listened to my rants, and didn’t judge me for the thoughts and feelings I needed to share. Reconnecting with my friends in this way made me realize how a lot of them had been through similar struggles — both related to Covid and otherwise. Listening to their experiences was heartbreaking and heartwarming simultaneously. One thing was clear: I was not alone. We were all struggling in our own ways.

Using work as a coping mechanism is fine — but you need to set healthy boundaries.  

The thing is, everybody has different coping mechanisms — and that’s okay. It’s important to make sure that you’re processing things in a way that serves your physical and mental health. Reach out to a professional for help, if you can afford it. If that’s not accessible right now, connect with people who make you feel supported.

If you’re struggling to prioritize yourself, consider this article a gentle reminder to check in with the most important person in your life — you. The world may seem like it’s falling apart, but you are doing great. You are doing the best you can.

Continue Dear Caregiver, Are You Taking Care of Yourself? by Rakshitha Arni Ravishankar, from Harvard Business Review, April 28, 2021.


Pennsylvania’s Plans to Consolidate 6 State Universities

Read Pennsylvania’s Plans to Consolidate 6 State Universities by Emma Whitford, from Inside Higher Ed, April 27, 2021.

On Monday, April 26, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) published two plans to consolidate six state universities into to two universities.

The first plan, dubbed the west integration plan, will consolidate California University of Pennsylvania, Clarion University, and Edinboro University, which are all located in the western part of the state. The second plan, called the northeast integration plan, will consolidate Bloomsburg University, Lock Haven University, and Mansfield University. The second group of universities is clustered in the northeastern part of the state.

Each consolidated university will have one president, who will report to the Board of Governors through the chancellor, according to the plans. The consolidated universities would also have a shared enrollment management strategy and student support services, such as academic advising, financial aid, health, and wellness counseling, library services, and career counseling.

While this is a very forward-thinking approach, I have been part of an institution looking to consolidate with another similar-size institution which ended poorly. We also learned that the strength we believed we had, with strong enrollment numbers, masked other issues that would (and did) come to light.

This approach is decidedly different, but I am curious how it will turn out. Especially with active alumni involvement during the public hearings. Stayed tuned.

Continue Pennsylvania’s Plans to Consolidate 6 State Universities by Emma Whitford, from Inside Higher Ed, April 27, 2021.


Student Affairs NOW!: Assessing Student Learning

Listen to Assessing Student Learning from Student Affairs NOW Podcast, April 28, 2021.

Dr. Heather Shea discusses assessing student learning and development outcomes with four assessment experts, including the co-editors of the new FALDOs book from CAS. Panelists share ways to streamline the process through frameworks as well as learn what various campuses are doing to build a culture of assessment.

Panelists include:

  • Dr. Darby M. Roberts is the director of Student Life Studies in the Division of Student Affairs at Texas A&M University. 
  • J. Patrick Biddix is Professor of Higher Education and Associate Director of the Postsecondary Education Research Center (PERC) at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville (UTK).
  • Nicole Long (she/her) is the Executive Director for Planning and Strategy at the University of Delaware, where she serves as a strategist for assessment and communications in the Division of Student Life.
  • Dan Bureau is the current president of the Council for the Advancement of Standards in Higher Education (CAS), a frequent presenter at conferences, and a scholar-practitioner with several journal articles, book chapters and other publications. 

An episode transcript is available on the website.

Continue Assessing Student Learning from Student Affairs NOW Podcast, April 28, 2021.


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Joseph Rios, EdD
leadershipandvaluesinaction@gmail.com
I am Joseph Rios and I believe that leadership is an expression of our values
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