“Winter Blues”: Managing Energy and Concentration

Winter months at Champlain College can be difficult for our faculty (and staff and students). Fall semester and the holidays drain our energy. Still, we ask our minds and bodies to get up before seeing the sun each day and perform and produce until after the sun goes down. 

As faculty, it takes energy to put on our teaching personas, the ones who inspire and motivate our students. How can we activate our enthusiasm, be fully present in the classroom, and present to our community our vivacious commitment to the work of learning and teaching?

Routines and Spaces for Concentration and Energy

Low concentration and listlessness can be a sign that your adrenal system is responding to your environment with surges of cortisol. When humans experience stress, the body creates the hormone cortisol to provide the energy you need to survive. If the body’s stress response is triggered too often, cortisol can activate changes in the brain. These changes are sometimes referred to as the flight, fight and freeze responses.

This time of year, you may endure short bursts of extreme cold and wind and harsh precipitation beating on your face while getting to your office. You may encounter near-falls on the ice. You may also be tired from the short days. If your stress levels continue to stay high, the frontal lobe of the brain, which supports reason, attention, and organization, may shut down. Creating a supportive work environment and establishing a healthy routine can help.

Organize and refresh your work space or office

Establish a daily and weekly routine

  • Help others understand the routine so they can support you. 
  • Create margin in your Google Calendar by blocking an additional 10-15 minutes at the end of each meeting. Use the time to refresh yourself by moving around, refilling your coffee or water, doing some deep breathing, or whatever works for you.
  • Create one or more at-work self-care appointments each week. If you have some work-from-home time during the week, you might enjoy one of these 30 minute or less self-care rituals.
  • Track your accomplishments and set reasonable goals. Take time to reflect on your goals and check things off your list.
  • Establish regular times to work on different projects (for example, join your colleagues on Wednesday afternoons for the CLT writing group).

Supporting Students

  • Encourage your students to get organized, create routines, and set goals. Check in with them about their workflows and plans to work through the syllabus. 
  • If students need support please send them to the SMARTSpace. The coaching staff will gladly work with your students to help them plan for success through strategies like Goal Setting for Academics and Well Being.

Join the CLT for a Faculty Self-Care Day

Please join the CLT Team for a day of self-care on March 4th from 9:30 – 1:30 PM. Come to MIC 201 for pancakes with all the fixings. Gluten-free, dairy-free and vegan options will be available. Enjoy the massage chairs. Pick up a self-care giveaway and enter for a chance to win a prize!

Explore Further

Rest is anything that connects your mind and body, The Nap Ministry, founded in 2016 by Tricia Hersey. February 21, 2022.

More Self-Care and Wellness
“Winter Blues”: Managing the Freeze of Inertia
“Bear-ing” the Winter Blues at Champlain