Women on couch talking
Antione D. Tomlin, PhD headshot

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC

Associate Professor and Director of Academic Literacies Tutoring Center

Anne Arundel Community College

Tamisha J. Ponder, PhD, ERYT

Tamisha J. Ponder, PhD, ERYT

Adjunct Professor and Founder/CEO

Anne Arundel Community College, Sankofa Health & Wellness

Depending on the time of the academic year, faculty may neglect effective self-care and wellness practices because we feel the need to “push through” or “just get it done.” While this approach isn’t always the safest, many faculty may admit that it’s how things have always been, and they plan to rest when it’s “less busy.” We know we are guilty of this mindset sometimes. 

As we bring the academic year to an end, we encourage faculty to do a self-assessment and evaluate how they spent their emotional, mental, and physical energy over the past year. Consider what you need to do to rest, reset, and re-energize. This post offers tips for faculty—but they can also be useful for administrators, staff, and students—on how to be more intentional about adopting effective self-care practices at the end of an academic year.

Tip 1: Cultivate I.R.B. (Intention, Rest, and Boundaries)

Imagine enjoying a morning cup of coffee before tending to your notifications and emails. Envision the sun on your skin and wind on your eyelashes before a reminder alerts you. Cultivating IRB means to set an intention before the world requests of you. With a good night’s rest and morning intentionality, early morning mindfulness can seem less like a fairytale and more like a non-negotiable. 

Begin your mornings with the intention of self-preservation before your to-do lists define your day. This may require you to get up earlier or reevaluate the appropriation of your time, but afterward, it will make sense. Nobody said it was easy, but we all agree that it is worth it. 

Tip 2: Prioritize Play 

Somewhere along the way, adulthood kicked in and life began to life—and responsibilities overshadowed a type of innocence and carefree status that can only be recognized by your younger self. I often ask my folks, who were you before the world told you who you were? What activities did you do before said life event? 

This is where play comes into the picture. What does it feel like to laugh without judgment? Get messy without fear of cleaning up. Excitement without boundaries. The concept of “play” might confuse you; however, I ask you to not think so hard about it. If you played outside as a kid, lace up your sneakers and explore the great outdoors. If you meddled with arts and crafts in your younger days, take a visit to your local craft store and fill up your cart! The nostalgic remix of your then and now can be a full-circle experience that you didn’t know you needed.

Tip 3: Summer Reset

The academic year can bring many joys, challenges, pains, and growth to faculty. While we love what we do, the challenges can sometimes become overwhelming. Incorporating self-care strategies and techniques throughout the academic year is crucial, and summer should definitely be a time to reset. 

Personally, we use summer as an opportunity to recharge. We strive to only say yes to essential work tasks and embrace activities that bring play and pleasure. We are not suggesting that colleagues spend all their money on relaxation but rather emphasizing the importance of intentional self-care practices during the summer. Without this intentionality, you risk continuing down a path toward exhaustion and burnout. 

We suggest you approach summer with clear plans for what you want to accomplish, both professionally and personally. Create a to-do list that outlines your strategic and intentional Summer Reset plans. As your semester and contract come to an end, set aside time to thoughtfully add activities and experiences to your schedule that align with your reset goals.

Tip 4: Create/Join an Accountability Group

Just as we have writing, working, and exercising accountability groups and partners, we must also create spaces that hold us accountable for self-care. Find others with similar self-care or wellness goals and establish a collaborative community to achieve these goals together. Decide on the objectives of your formal or informal group, how you will hold each other accountable, and how you will celebrate both shared and individual successes. 

Having a self-care and wellness accountability space will motivate you to continue on your journey. Many tasks, accomplishments, and achievements require a village for support. Find, build, and cultivate your village as you strive to be the best version of yourself.

Authors Bios:

Antione D. Tomlin, PhD, PCC, is a tenured Associate Professor and Director of Academic Literacies Tutoring Center at Anne Arundel Community College. Dr. Tomlin is also an ICF Certified Life Coach. Feel free to reach out at www.drantionetomlin.com or on X (Twitter) @Tomlinantione.

Tamisha J. Ponder, PhD, ERYT is an adjunct professor at Anne Arundel Community College and founder/CEO of Sankofa Health & Wellness, an integrative wellness company. Dr. Ponder leads an accredited and registered yoga teacher training program and mindfulness courses. Feel free to reach out at www.tamishajponder.com or on X (Twitter) @TJackPonder.

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Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the view of Interfolio.