Self-Care during Disruption [video]

min read

Four learning technology leaders discuss how they take care of themselves and avoid burnout during the pandemic.

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Sherri Braxton
Senior Director, Instructional Technology
University of Maryland, Baltimore County

Eden Dahlstrom
Vice President, Professional Learning

Liv Gjestvang
Associate Vice President for Learning Technology
The Ohio State University

Jennifer Sparrow
Associate Vice President, Teaching and Learning with Technology
The Pennsylvania State University

Liv: So I feel like I'm trying to just kind of, I would say, loosen my standards a little bit of just allowing myself to think about what are the most important things that I have to do and not hold myself accountable for everything. I'm not going to reveal the size of my inbox right now. But let me just say it would be a comfort to many of you out there. So I have kids who are seven and nine, and they don't have a really rigorous school plan that's being run by their school, and so we're trying to manage that, and knowing that, trying to give myself a little grace. And the other piece of that is knowing that by giving myself grace, that does not mean that I suddenly feel better about all of it. It means also allowing myself to feel bad about how some of it's going and know that's actually part of the process too.

Sherri: And for me actually defining the end of the day has been something that I've struggled with. And so doing that, stopping the phone, stopping looking at emails, not answering Slacks, those boundaries are blurred, and you really need to define those. And even to the point where I miss my drive home from work because that was my time to transition, right? So I have gone out and gone for a ride in the car or just walked around, just so that I can make that transition from work to home life, children, family, unpacking. All those things, selling my other house ! So there is a life beyond work, and the bottom line, we just have to remember that COVID will go away, our family will still be there, but we need to make sure we're giving them the attention they need throughout this process of working at home.

Jennifer: I do think being intentional about that separation and how we give ourself care, how we give our families that care as well, is so important. And stuff like this.

Liv: No, I was just going to say we had spring break planned for this week and we had planned to be away out of town for the week, and Julie talked me into just taking a couple of days, which I was sort of nervous to do, because I felt like I was just going to come back to a bigger load of things to catch up on. But it was so good to just, to disconnect, and to remember that work goes on fully functionally, whether I'm there or not, and just kind of…I think the fact that I wasn't trying to focus on both things was just incredibly good for my, like my nervous system. I think I just felt so much, I didn't realize how exhausting it was to have that constant back and forth between these multiple, I guess sort of demands or inputs, around me. So I would say for people who can find a day and it might feel good to take it. It felt surprisingly good to do that.

Eden: I like to think of myself more like Data than Deanna from Star Trek: The Next Generation. And so to be able to acknowledge and give myself permission to not be okay. It's okay to not be okay is a really important thing to remind myself of because I tend to be stoic and analytical. And I'm a human and I do have emotions and being able to acknowledge that and to not be okay and to have my family know that things will be okay, but right now, it's not, it's not good, has been therapeutic for me. And I'm growing in that way. I'm happy, happy to come out on the other end stronger and a well-rounded person.

Liv: I would say one other thing. I know that sometimes just the informal gatherings like happy hours with my work colleagues have actually been really great, just to sort of bring myself out of the little box that I'm in, in my house. And what I'm working on now that I feel like is helping me as an actual strategy, is I'm trying to just get a little bit better with a routine. I haven't really established what a routine looks like at home, and figuring out what I can do for myself a little bit before I start work and how I create the end of my day in some way before I dive in with my family and all of those things. So those are a couple of things I'm trying at the moment.