50 Ways to Leave Your Computer: Holistic Self-Care for the Online Educator
Concurrent Session 1
This interactive session provides a variety of holistic self-care techniques for online educators to help overcome unique challenges to wellbeing and prevent burnout. Challenges include deficiencies in: work boundaries; social interaction; breaks; and movement/exercise. Likewise excess: screen time; email/pingers; phone calls/texts; online meetings; and other distractions are barriers to self-care.
Topic and Relevance
The presenters are both experts in holistic nursing with Board Certification in Advanced Holistic Nursing (AHN-BC). Anyone who works online the majority of the time has faced challenges to self-care. This session will focus on holistic self-care for the online educator. Holistic self-care encompasses caring for the whole person; mind, body, and spirit. The mind-body connection within oneself is powerful; one affects the other. Challenges to caring for the whole self may be categorized into deficiencies and excesses. The deficiencies lead to excesses and vice-versa.
Lack of work boundaries for example, may lead to fragmented work, long or excessive work hours, and often wasted time. Online teachers often do not have a proper start and stop time, have no set workdays/work week, and no built-in breaks. How tempting is it for example, to pop online when the laptop is in the room and smartphone ever at hand? Working during one’s free-time such as family and leisure time is likewise a consequence. When working remotely, it is also easy to sit in one place for extended periods of time. Stagnation and excess screen time takes a toll on both the mind and body, with cognitive overload, eye-strain and lack of exercise as common consequences. Breaks and interactions tend to be regular when working in person, such as congregating in the break room, not so when working remotely. Interacting with people is natural and compulsory in the traditional workplace; as a juxtaposition, working online can be isolating. Commuting to work provides for preparation to set one’s mind in work-mode on the way to work, and from work equally important, a time to decompress. Walking to and from parking or public transit provides exercise. Remote workers may miss out on these “built in” benefits of their work-site counterparts. Telecommuters lack rituals to move about and break up time.
Distractions for online educators are abundant. Anyone who works online knows the distraction of excessive email and message “pings”. Do you find yourself constantly flipping over to email each time you hear a ding, or when you are trying to concentrate on grading or crafting a document? Each time you click over, it diverts your focus and can cause lost productivity. No doubt the sheer volume of email and what to do with it is daunting. Phone calls and text messages also interrupt workflow and efficiency. “Death by meeting”, with online meetings filling the majority of our days or work week, can be an issue as well, not leaving enough time for course development/improvement and actual teaching. Other distractions can be internet surfing, doorbells, outside noises, family members, easy access to food and snacks, and yes, even pets. All of these distractions can take away from completing important work, and extend our workdays, and cause us to neglect our holistic self-care.
Lack of holistic self-care as a result of lack of boundaries and overwork can cause chronic stress and result burnout. Burnout is not a disease, rather a disorder. The International Disease Classification-11 (World Health Organization, 2019) defines Burnout as the following:
"Burn-out is a syndrome conceptualized as resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. It is characterized by three dimensions:
- feelings of energy depletion or exhaustion;
- increased mental distance from one's job, or feelings of negativism or cynicism related to one's job; and
- reduced professional efficacy.
Burn-out refers specifically to phenomena in the occupational context and should not be applied to describe experiences in other areas of life."
This lively session, therefore will provide 50 quick and easy to do techniques for the online educator to promote holistic self-care and wellbeing, and prevent chronic stress and burnout fallout. The presenters, who are both experts in holistic nursing and are Board Certified Advanced Holistic Nurses (AHN-BC), will share hands-on practice of complementary modalities. Attendees will be invited to practice select techniques during the presentation to foster interactivity, engagement and future integration into practice. Practical tips for managing work boundaries and distractions will also be discussed.
Participants will be able to
- Explain why holistic self-care is important for the online educator.
- Describe a variety of techniques and tips for self-care.
- Practice select complementary modalities.
World Health Organization. (May, 2019). Burn-out an "occupational phenomenon": International Classification of Diseases. Available from https://www.who.int/news/item/28-05-2019-burn-out-an-occupational-phenomenon-international-classification-of-diseases.