Saima Qadree, Program Director

Recently, I read a sentiment online that struck a chord with me. It was about the way in which society romanticizes overexertion. Too often, the idea of running from task to task, being scheduled minute by minute, and being just plain busy is glamorized. Running on fumes or using coffee as a food group are common practices to get through the day. Working late nights or weekends and sleepless nights are ways to prove to yourself and others that you are accessible, competent, and to be admired. Exhaustion has become the new chic for many. 

Stress is Not Chic

When did we get so far away from caring for ourselves that the thought of overcommitting ourselves became the norm? Sometimes, we do not even realize we are doing this until it is pointed out to us. That certainly was the case for me. This notion gave me pause and allowed me to think of how often I am guilty of these behaviors and how often I have seen many of my friends and family members in this same situation. I thought that for me, these behaviors were happening few and far between, but when I really looked at my calendar and reflected, I realized I had work to do, or in this case, undo.

I began thinking if this is truly the way I aspire to be and quickly arrived at the answer: NO. What happened to the art of balance? What happened to practicing what I preach as it relates to social and emotional wellness? This chance to reflect solidified the idea that it behooves us to have balance in our lives so that we can achieve a healthier state of wellness and not burn out. I did not have to look too far for the answers to my questions.

Social and Emotional Learning is Chic

The five core social and emotional learning (SEL) competencies as outlined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL) focus on building our capacity to improve our skills, attitudes, and behaviors. The competencies are self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision making.

Balance is the New Chic

To achieve the balance between body, mind, and spirit, I really needed to step back, reflect (self-awareness), manage expectations of myself and my time (self-management), realize my schedule’s impact on others and my relationships (social awareness & relationship skills), and finally, make better decisions to find my balance (responsible decision making). In this moment of recognition, I was able to bring my field of work front and center to apply towards my daily practices.

Progress is Chic

To date, I have been able to implement small changes to my schedule and habits that have yielded positive results. For example, I have started to use my commute time more intentionally; often using it to practice deep breathing while I drive or listen to a good audiobook to develop myself. I’ve also started to make sure that when eating lunch at work, I try to step away from my desk, or at least disconnect from my computer so I can be mindful. This allows me to be more present in the moment. I recognize I have a lot more work to do and am still figuring out the answers, but I am grateful to have the reminder to reflect and assure that balance is the new chic for me!