Taking time for yourself can up your focus at work – a win-win

by Jaclyn Y. Garver
Communication and DEI Manager
Fort Wayne, IN


I just got back from a walk around my neighborhood. It’s one way I self-care, to get myself away from this little machine in my lap and outside. I tend to get lost in my head when I walk, the opposite of being present. Occasionally, I pull myself out of my thoughts and observe the slap of my soles on the sidewalk, the 79-degree heat on my neck, the rumble of the lawnmowers and the resulting delicious, earthy perfume.


This is another way I self-care: writing. The fun kind. Not that I don’t enjoy writing emails and social media posts for y’all. I do. But for-fun writing is a different beast. Not even a beast, but a bonfire with good company and a cool breeze. Soul food, if you will.


August is National Wellness Month, meant to promote healthy routines and encourage folks to prioritize self-care, whatever that looks like for us.


Plenty of studies have shown the professional benefits of self-care:


–  “Mindfulness, as an example, can reduce mind-wandering and improve focus and concentration.” (Forbes)

–  “Employees who engage in self-care activities are more likely to be productive and motivated at work.” (Altius Group)

–  “Where work stress leads to cardiac and digestive issues, weight gain, burnout, lack of focus, moodiness or depression, and decreased performance; self-care builds brain and body fitness that will translate right into the workplace.” (Heartmanity’s Blog)

–  “When you’re stressed out or anxious, it can be hard to process information, refocus your thoughts and regulate your emotions.” (New York’s Office of Mental Health) (That link has some Self-Care at Your Desk pointers, too.)


We asked some NCMPR members how they self-care at work, too, in case you need a little inspiration and my walks and writing didn’t do it for you (but fair warning … more walking’s ahead).




“I have started walking and counting my steps. There’s a walking challenge here at PCC to see who gets the most steps, and the daily goal is 10,000 steps daily. I have noticed a big difference in moving around and walking around campus or doing laps in my building to relieve stress and get away from my desk for a bit.”

~ Taylor Stubblefield, social media specialist at Pitt Community College in North Carolina




I took a vacation this summer and completely left work behind me. I did not check emails or Teams, and my ED did not bother me at all (she’s super good about that on any day off). It felt great. This photo from my vacation is also my new screen saver, reminding me each day to remember how good I felt in Vail. Refreshed, full of energy, AWESOME!!”

~ Teri Sturm, marketing copywriter at Lakeshore Technical College in Wisconsin




Normally, my self-care involves spending time with my family, especially beautiful days outside with my husband and two daughters. We both used to be avid soccer players. However, since the kids, we transitioned to outdoor activities like walks in the park and beach days. It’s great to be able to disconnect, spend some time in the sun, and watch the girls enjoy new places.


“For me, selfcare involves taking time to unplug and spend time outdoors. Last week, my husband and I took a road trip to Tennessee. We hiked at the Great Smoky Mountains, joined a walking tour in Nashville, and explored downtown Louisville, Kentucky, before heading back home to Wisconsin. The views were incredible. Not only did we learn a lot of fun facts throughout our trip, but we were able to explore new places. It’s refreshing and re-energizing. I highly recommend using your time off to go and explore outdoors.”

~ Gabi Mar-Gagula, communications & marketing specialist at Rock Valley College in Illinois



My personal life has a direct impact on my professional life, and my professional life has a direct impact on my personal life. While I am good at compartmentalizing, it is impossible for my lives to never intersect. Therefore, I practice self-care personally and professionally.


Personally, this summer, I:


–  Attended a cookout hosted by one of my besties and her family.

–  Hosted a “picture party” with my sister and nieces to honor the one-year passing of our matriarch and divide all of the family pictures that our matriarch collected over the years.

–  Spent Father’s Day with my husband, dad and father-in-love and treated them to gifts and a soul food luncheon.

–  Took my teenaged nieces shopping.

–  Went to lunch with a nephew and his significant other.

–  Went to dinner with a sibling and their significant other.

–  Went skating with my husband, bonus children and grandchildren.

–  Blocked off weekends to do nothing but rest, relax, read and watch Netflix with my husband.

– Walked on a regular basis with a goal to walk at least 10,000 steps per day.


Have you noticed a theme? My loved ones are a source of self-care and self-love for me.


Professionally, this summer, I:

–  Enjoyed HACC’s Fridays-off summer schedule and totally disconnected from work on those days.

–  Blocked off my calendar to indicate I was out of the office for a week, spent the daytime hours with my husband and checked work email during the evenings. This hybrid model allowed me to spend quality time with my family and handle essential work-related duties.

–  Took a one-week vacation and totally disconnected from work.

–  Reduced the number of non-essential meetings held.

–  Scheduled virtual lunch gatherings with colleagues I respect and trust.

~ Dr. Linnie Carter, vice president of college advancement at HACC, Central Pennsylvania’s Community College




I like to walk to a Shakespeare Garden (a fountain surrounded by rose bushes and benches, with a sculpture of William Shakespeare sitting in one of them) on a nearby university campus and back during my lunch hour.”

~Lynn Whalen, chief communications officer at Lincoln Land Community College in Illinois





Jaclyn Y. Garver is the communication and DEI manager at NCMPR and resides in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

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