Advice

Public Health Week: Self-Care Focus

We asked members of Omega NU and the MS, School Psych Program to reflect on self-care practices as they balance school and work.

NU celebrates Public Health Week on April 12-14. Check out the events flyer and register here to attend.

Contributors: Lara T., Stephanie B., Luka J. -MS, School Psych, PPSC Credential.

Steph B.-

I doubt my achievements often, and find myself overcompensating by constantly finding new projects and items to work on. This has made me become overcommitted, stressed and unhealthy mentally and emotionally at times. Public Health Week emphasizes making our communities healthier, stronger and safer, and bringing in the perspectives of multiple students to discuss how we prioritize self-care is our goal for this blog.

Hopefully, our discussion of self-care will inspire and motivate readers to focus on their self-care, not just in honor of public health week, but from now on.

Talking to friends brings a sense of belonging. While I have friends in the San Diego area, my best friend is moving to another state soon. I had felt very upset by this and consequently joined a discord server to talk to people, have a support group, and play fun games with. This has helped me significantly with processing my best friend moving, and has helped me problem-solve through my feelings. In general, having a support group, whether that be in person or online (such as a discord server), can help significantly. I try to do something that I enjoy every day. After a long day from work/school, I find joy in watching an episode or two of a Korean drama, playing video games, or reading webtoons. Doing so keeps my mind distracted from work/school, and keeps me from hyperfocusing on what needs to be done.

Woman with oversized candybar.
We can neither confirm nor deny that Stephanie bought this and started eating it. But low key, we want some. [CSEA does not endorse nor oppose KitKats or any other delicious, chocolate treats.]

Additionally, I have shifted my mindset on self-care. Self-care is not something I do when I have time. But rather, self-care is a lifestyle that must be added in order to stay healthy. Never feel guilty for taking a break when there is a lot to do, but rather, focus on how you can relax to be able to recharge for the next event.

Lara T.:

Self Care is a completely new concept for me. My journey with self care started at the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic in 2020. I decided to make the biggest change in my life all in the name of self care. I was stuck at a job I hated with bosses I hated even more, I was also diagnosed with depression and anxiety. It was then that I decided I needed to quit my job and figure out myself emotionally and physically. I resigned from my job “effective immediately” and started to think about my future, which gave me more anxiety. After about a month of being jobless, I decided to move forward and get my Master’s Degree at National. After making that decision, I had another problem I had to tackle; “How do I not allow school to take over my life again?” Cue in the Self Care.

Lara T. with her self-care calendar. Every month has a different self-care theme that we now want to do. Challenge accepted.

I started by setting boundaries with my schooling. I set up my desk area to be everything I needed for school stuff, my laptop, books, pencils, pens, a calendar, and a planner. Then, I made it a point to be at my desk only for a certain time, the second I left my desk for the night, the school work was done. This was extremely difficult to do at first. I’m the type to remember things randomly and want to get them done ASAP, but I made sure I was mindful and continuously told myself, “No. This can wait for tomorrow.” When my school day was done, I’d leave my room and go spend time with my family, which for me was my own way of self caring. We’d watch tv and eat dinner together and it was a great way to wind down for me after the stresses of school.

In my personal life, I made a point to take “weekly self care days” on a weekend day. Meaning, no school, no work, no people. I would do whatever I wanted. Some days, I’d take myself on a date, other days I’d pamper, most days I ended up at home reading a book or binge watching “Criminal Minds”… again. This was really important to me, because I tend to be “on” at all times, around family, friends, during school, so it was extremely nice to be “off” and only answer to myself.

The year of 2022 brought to me a “Self Care Calendar” from one of my really good friends. I was given the calendar because, “If you don’t get told what to do, you’ll never do these things.” – My Friend. Every month has a new self care theme that is suggested. January was to try something new. February was to pamper yourself. March was to nest your areas, and this month, April, is to meditate. I took this calendar and ran with it. In January, I went to a Jazz night, tried a spin class, went to a comedy show, and tried new foods! In February, I treated myself to cute workout gear! In March, I “nested” my bedroom, bathroom, desk and car. I deep cleaned everything!

April is Meditation, this one is going to prove very difficult for me, because my mind wanders, and I don’t like to sit still. This is going to take all of my mindfulness, and energy, so I can get into it. All in all, self care is good and a necessity in life, and I’m so happy I’m finally on this journey.

Lara’s self-care vibe is goals.

Luka J.:

Self-care has been a hard idea for me to solidify and start using in my life. Before entering National, I actually went through a really difficult time, where I had a life-threatening event that caused my physical and mental health to decline rapidly. I had to go on leave from work and put off my plans of applying to grad school as I went through rehabilitation for several months. During that time, I started forcing myself to do things that I thought other people would enjoy, even if I couldn’t find the fun in them at the time. Hiking and birdwatching were some of the activities I picked up- while I had never been a fan of sweating, and didn’t know much about birds, I knew it was an activity that would force me to spend time outside and observing nature in the present moment. I created a tradition for myself of finding a new hiking trail, or nature preserve, or just a park every month. This lasted a long time as I tried out each hiking trail in my area, and it gave me a goal to work towards.

Luka J. –rested, relaxed, and perhaps on the way to make the kebabs? [We might try this, too.]

Now that I am working and in grad school, I still make sure to set aside time for myself twice a month to go to a hiking trail- sometimes new, sometimes well-liked, but always a long one that gives me plenty of time to decompress. During my free time back before grad school, I also did a lot of cooking new foods I had never tried before. Some of these turned out great, some not so great, but each time I felt like I had accomplished something. While I now have less time to devote to the culinary arts, I still make it a goal to try cooking something new every month (this month, kofta kebabs!).

While previously in my life I procrastinated and put off work to rest, I felt unsatisfied during these times and never came out of them actually feeling rested. I was consumed with guilt and worry about how these things I had to do were looming over me, and I felt as though I was being ‘lazy’ by not working all the time. By creating structured times for myself to relax- a monthly, weekly, or even daily schedule- I don’t deal with feelings of guilt and worry about putting off work. I know I’ll get to it, just after my self-care time. Additionally, I’ve realized that time resting isn’t ‘lazy’ at all.

The reason I had felt so drained afterwards was because I hadn’t actually been relaxing- the whole time I was laying in bed on my phone, I was worrying and thinking and speculating, which made me feel worse rather than better. Doing something active has helped me clear my head during those times, rather than ruminating on what I have to do. Finding things that are rewarding to me, as well as fun or relaxing, are essential to having a positive mindset about life. Ending the day feeling like I’ve accomplished something, even if that was just seeing a different kind of duck at the park, has helped me look forward to each day.

#NUFam #selfcare #publichealthweek #relax #studentlife #studentsuccess #beloning #discordserver

adult learner, Advice

Black History Month Focus: Black Health

Black Wellness is the theme of this year’s BHM Commemoration. We highlight Roman J.’s 100 lbs weight loss.

Reflections on a Fitness Journey, by Roman J., VP of Southern Cal. Region NU Alumni Association; Member of Phi Alpha Delta, pre-law Society. Major: Pre-Law, anticipated graduation, 2025. [So. Cal. Alumni Association meets March 17 at 7 p.m. Register here] See the NU Events Calendar for more.

Roman, now 100lbs lighter.

Hi my name is Roman. My weight loss journey started 6 months ago. Truth be told, my weight gain was not an overnight thing. It was something I had struggled with since I was a kid. Throughout my life, I tried every diet and workout plan you can think of. Nothing stuck. I was so frustrated by myself and the weight gain, especially when I hit 300lbs.

Unfortunately, by that time, I was so tired and unmotivated. I’d sleep all day and wake up to eat and work. One day I reached a breaking point, I talked to a friend who happens to be a expert in the field. He explained to me that getting on a nutrition under control was key. I needed to learn to be disciplined with my eating before I could do anything else. We came up with a nutrition plan that included some of the things I felt I could not give up. The trouble was I had to learn moderation. After about a week, I started on a 7 days–a-week workout plan. I started off where I was at, and, as each week as I progressed, I add more weight and reps when lifting and longer and faster time to my cardio. 

My friends and family helped to keep me accountable and encourage me to keep going. That’s not to say I didn’t have set backs, only to say I and my support group help me push past those set backs and not wallow in them. 

I pushed hard and stayed consistent throughout the process, to the point where I lost 100lbs in 6 months.  As of today, I’m still losing fat, but focusing on gaining muscle.

Want to workout and learn about fitness? Join the Mind and Body Wellness Student Org. See their schedule here.

Interested in becoming an AntiRacist Educator? Check out Educators United. See their schedule here.

Check out NU Engage on March 8 at 5:30 PDT to learn more about student organizations at National University. Join here.

#blackhistorymonth #fitnessjourney #weightloss #fitstudents #fitspo #NUFam #AdultLearner

Advice

Reflections on Fatherhood: Love, Grace, + Balance

By Cameron Rhodes, NU Scholar and Member of the Mind and Body Wellness Student Organization

Mind and Body Wellness meets the fourth Thursday of every month and has online workouts on M, W, F of each week. Please email clubs@nu.edu for zoom info. For zoom monthly meetings, please logon: Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88463054505?pwd=cUpxN2ZVeXo1SjFZUStwUFJYWUNQZz09 Meeting ID: 884 6305 4505
Passcode: wellness


       

Cam Rhodes, NU Scholar, with Grant Robert Rhodes

As soon as I was old enough to understand what being a father meant sometime during my teenage years, I have looked forward to the day that I would receive the title of dad. That day came a short (or long depending on the previous night) two months ago when my son, Grant Robert Rhodes was born on the morning of June 27th, 2021.

Life from that point forward would be forever different than it was just a few hours before. There are a few things that I hope to accomplish in this blog post, by laying them out here will help me to keep this piece from being 20 pages long. I will describe a bit of my background as a kid growing up and what helped to shape my views of parenthood. Second, I will discuss the experience of pregnancy from my point of view, preparing for Grant, and how we are navigating new challenges presented every day. Last, I will share what it is like having our first child in the middle of a pandemic, while working full time in a small family business, while grinding through nursing school. I am not the first, nor will I be the last to have a story with this plot, but I hope to share a little bit about my unique experience with you.

Cam and his wife Katie welcome their son

 I was lucky as a kid who grew up in a small town surrounded by men that led with a passion to serve God, their families, community, and the next generation via coaching, teaching, and/or volunteering. As the 9 months of anxious anticipation passed, I took the time to reflect on the most impactful and memorable experiences that I had growing up as it related to the principles of parenthood.

I quickly realized that a reoccurring theme had begun to distinguish itself amongst my favorite memories that involved the men in my life, the display of unconditional love.

In the moment, as a child I obviously didn’t understand the implications of being treating as a son by all the men in my life, but it did help shape the way that I see my role as a man in society. It has helped me to construct a foundation of principles that I can model my behavior around to pay it forward to the next generation. It takes intentionality to break down the barriers of the well-established masculine culture that makes it easy to say, “toughen up” but difficult to express, “I love you.” While I give credit to the men I was surrounded by during my childhood, I can already hear the words coming out of their mouths, “We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). A refreshing reminder for me that these men were led by the creator of unconditional love, and that’s where my focus needs to be.

It takes intentionality to break down the barriers that makes it easy to say
“Toughen up” but difficult to say“I love you.”

Grant has brought so much joy to our family in the short time that he has been a part of it which began the day we found out my wife was pregnant. It was an answered prayer that we had been waiting for eagerly for close to 8 months.

Conception didn’t come easy for us, which took an emotional toll because we worked so hard to live a healthy lifestyle thinking that was the ticket for a baby.

There were many months of failure which led to mounting frustration coupled with the stress of maintaining grades and both of us working full time jobs. We learned how critical clear and consistent communication and grace for one another was (a theme that continues to hold supreme importance in parenthood). On a morning around the time of Thanksgiving, I was in the office working on a grant proposal and our big dogs came barging in to greet me when I noticed they had some new bandanas on. The tears started flowing as soon as I read the words on the bandana, “My parents are getting me a human.” The day had finally come that God had chosen for us to become parents. Looking back the timing Grant was conceived was perfect (His timing is always perfect).

As Katie began making both the physical and emotional transformation into motherhood, I quickly realized what a miraculous marvel childbearing is getting to experience it all secondhand. It just so happened that we had our obstetrics and pediatrics courses just a few short months before Grant would arrive. What an incredible opportunity it was to get to dive deeply into the physiological processes that occur in pregnancy and early childhood development while living it at the same time.

Parenthood and school work and work-work. All in one!

Sleep is a very coveted physiological process in our household as it is a foundational pillar of optimizing health. When Grant was born, sleep was no longer the main priority at night time, it was caring for the needs of our newborn child. Those first 3 weeks were really difficult; if I don’t get quality rest, I am far from my best. This led to a period of forced adaptation where I had to learn to perform under sleep deprivation – school wasn’t pausing, I couldn’t take time off work (only 3 people in our business), and in between I had to make the time to get some form of physical exercise in for my wellbeing.

The most difficult thing about parenting for me has been that my responsibilities have been added to and restructured, but the expectations stay exactly the same.

Cam multitasking

Thankfully, Grant has picked up on our nighttime routine and after just 6 weeks began sleeping in consistent 5 hour stretches at nighttime (Fun fact: did you know your baby’s circadian sleep/wake routine gets initiated in the womb?). Two weeks ago, our employee got sick with Covid19 which meant my dad and I would have to split his job duties while he was out. It was a stressful and tiring time for our family, but good communication and grace got us through (our employee is back and healthy!).

Now that things have settled back down, Grant comes to the office to hang with dad and grandpa once a week! It is a coveted day each week as we get to share time bonding while mom gets a day to completely care for herself.

Grant enjoys some time in the office with parents, grandparents, and great grandparents!

Parenting has been the most “learn on the fly” that I have experienced in my 30 years on this earth. Everyone has parenting advice based on their unique experience (which I love whenever someone drops me some wisdom), but no child and no situation will ever be identical.

Katie and I have different physiological response mechanisms when it comes to the needs of our child, which extenuates the importance of communication and grace.

We are still navigating and working to improve awareness regarding these differences, and we are confident that over time our teamwork improves our child’s development.

As I get closer to finishing my time in nursing school, I look back on the most stressful moments over the past two years and thank God for every one of them. This part of my journey is sharpening some tools that help me to be a better man, husband, dad, student, employee, volunteer, and community member.  

Fatherhood has made Cam a better man, husband, dad, student, employee, volunteer, and community member. What has your parenting journey taught you?