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In the Pursuit of Self-Care: What Does Happiness Look Like to an Adviser?

By Amira Alexander, James Kenan College Adviser

As we enter into the Holiday season and the much needed week long break, we are finally granted student-free morning, afternoons, and evenings. But what to do with them? We’ve eagerly awaited time away from the school, if only for a moment, to collect our non-collegiate thoughts (yes, we have them) and rebuild the stamina required to be remain the beacon of change for our students.

Yet, as soon as we stepped out of the doors of our schools and into our cars, we’re bombarded with 10 work emails and another 15 Remind messages from students. You can’t say no, can you?

As we take a few days (even a couple of weeks for some of us, luck you!) to re-calibrate, might I suggest a few non-threatening, very chill-like tasks to do during that time:


  • Practice the art of saying “no”– *Warning* This is not to be used when called to help out in the family kitchen. That may lead to an unfavorable, restless break you were hoping to have. This “no” is more for when you get back to work. Those work emails you received, and continue to receive, relentlessly, ignore them (for the time being). Imagine you’re being asked to proctor 4 days in a row. You can say no to that. And maybe you should. You do not have to be everything for everyone. And why is that, you ask. Because what about you! By learning how to say no, you may find a little time for yourself.


  • Be flexible-  Within our schools, we tend to play a variety of roles that may call us to be confidant,test prep-er, even counselor. Although we may do these things out of good intentions, being all that and then some does take a burden on our souls, mind and body. Speaking from experience and being an INFP(thanks Myers-Briggs), I struggle with remembering to honor and respect the only body I have here on this earth. I don’t get to the gym as often as I’d like or eat as many veggies as my body would prefer but I do remember to do one thing-and that is to stretch. Some of us may not be as talented as my fellow colleague and awesome Adviser, Alexis (pictured below), but we all should stretch in our own way. Start by placing your right arm over your chest and folding your left arm to hold your right arm in place. Hold for the length of the Aretha Franklin’s “R.E.S.P.E.C.T.” or “Happy Birthday” song, whichever your preference. Make sure to remember to breathe. Do you feel that relief? Sometimes, that’s all it may take to bring you down a little on a particularly high-stress day.


  • Revel in your Magic- As our founder, Dr. Nicole Hurd, never forgets to tell us “ I believe in YOU”! We are in the business of literally sending forgotten students off on their dream path. We are radiating positivity, encouraging, uplifting and lighting the sparks within our students every day. Amongst the daily angst that is the public education system, we are increasing the number of underrepresented people that enter into and graduate from post-secondary institutions. That’s you, boo! That’s all you. And don’t you ever forget it.


We all have come a long way, yet have a long way to go. But can we, for maybe a minute or two, just pat ourselves on the back for not being where we were a month ago, a year ago, 5 years ago. Breathing, stretching, and say “no” is just the beginning! Just imagine what you can accomplish when you remember to create space, time, and energy for YOU.

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