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If more colleges and universities implement self-care programs, the result will be more engaged campuses that are capable of promoting greater student success, producing higher levels of research and serving as exemplary educational models.
As an example, we recently implemented a self-care program for faculty and staff members in the Michael D. Eisner College of Education at California State University, Northridge. Our survey, observation and interview data indicate that the program is effectively making significant inroads toward a cultural shift in the perception of self-care.
Our first step in this process was to conduct an informal needs assessment about how faculty and staff members in our college were doing in the area of self-care. Independent conversations with different individuals suggested that, although most of them enjoyed their work, they often experienced stress and burnout on the job as a result of a heavy workload.
Our second step was to research successful self-care programs at colleges and universities throughout the United States. We discovered that engagement in self-care was highest when faculty and staff members themselves chose the activities and those programs were offered at convenient times and locations. Based on those findings and organizational change theory, we crafted the following operational definition for self-care: “taking responsibility for oneself to maintain a healthy and balanced lifestyle at work and in one’s personal world through individually determined, proactive activities.”
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