Spring Forward: Getting rejuvenated during the last semester of the academic year

Last week, I was asked to give a speech focused on the theme “Being Woke Requires Rest.” I initially struggled with the theme in large part because as a student affairs professional, I don’t remember ever making time for or being encouraged to rest.  While for many, spring symbolizes a time when people can take time to explore the world post winter, those of us who work in colleges and universities may see this season as having a different meaning.

Spring is the time of year when campuses experience an increase in activities – from admissions preview days to cultural nights seeming to happen every weekend to student government elections to the hiring of next year’s student staff such as RAs and new student orientation leaders to end of the year banquets and finally commencement. Spring is also when campuses can experience protests, speakers, symposiums, and conferences.  

So how does one rest and become rejuvenated during a season that can make us feel like we are in the eye of the storm? Here are some tips that may make you and me a healthier person and perhaps a better role model to the students and staff we work with: 

  • Each week, keep at least one weekend day free from working.
  • Stop sending work-related emails and texts by 9 pm.
  • Commit to reading at least one book in the spring that has nothing to do with work.
  • Carve out time for you during the workday to enjoy a meal or a workout that allows your body and mind to focus on other things besides work-related tasks. 
  • Finally – spend time with your family and friends. Go out for a movie or for that hike and perhaps, you can make the time to actually smell the spring flowers blossoming all around you. 

As a self-described workaholic and energizer bunny, I know that keeping to the five tips will be difficult for me. I have always focused on the “woke” and movement part of the work because through the decades, the ever changing and tumultuous landscape of higher education demanded that we as educators needed to be innovative, resilient, and consistently present. And now after many years of moving and moving fast, perhaps it’s time for us to listen to writer Arundhati Roy who says, “Another world is not possible, she is on her way.  On a quiet day, I can hear her breathing.”

As we in student affairs provide transformative experiences to our students in order to indeed have a better world, we need to allow ourselves to stay put, experience some quiet, and take the time to rest. Because only then can we have the opportunity to hear what is coming. And only by allowing ourselves to rest, can we be woke and be rejuvenated and truly spring forward.