The Summer of Self-Care: Harmonizing Mental Wellness for Higher Ed Professionals and Student Leaders 

Ah, summertime—the season of outdoor concerts, where music helps us escape into sounds, stories, and serenity. It’s one of my favorite times of year, filled with moments to cherish, unwind, and dance like nobody’s watching. Whether it’s a local Jersey Shore band at my favorite bar, a summer camping festival, or a community concert series at the park, music has a way of making me reflect on mental wellness and all the behind-the-scenes efforts that go into delivering a flawless performance. 

I recently purchased my first guitar, determined to learn how to play this instrument and channel my inner Bruce Springsteen. Excitement filled the air as I held the guitar for the first time, but I soon found myself discouraged when my chords didn’t sound quite right by day three. Learning a new skill can be challenging, just like navigating the complexities of life in higher education. It’s a reminder that so much goes on behind the scenes before every performance—both on stage and in our daily lives—to make sure everything is just right. 

Picture this: a grand concert hall, where your favorite band is about to take the stage. The lead musician, poised and confident, leads the band through their set. The audience marvels at the beautiful music that fills the air. However, hidden from view, each instrument requires diligent tuning and care to produce such harmonious sounds. Similarly, the lives of higher ed professionals and student leaders may appear composed and successful on the surface, but without prioritizing mental health and wellness, their symphony may falter, impacting their performance and those around them. 

I can’t help but draw parallels between these musical performances and the lives of higher ed professionals and student leaders. Like the lead musician in a band, they juggle multiple responsibilities,striving to create a harmonious experience for their students and campus communities. But, just as a band requires careful tuning and preparation, so does your well-being. In this blog post, we’ll embark on a musical journey to explore five ways you can prioritize mental health and wellness, ensuring that life’s symphony plays to its fullest potential. 

1. Time Management & Boundary Setting: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band are known for legendary live performances that go on for hours. Just as musicians tune their instruments before the performance, efficient time management and setting boundaries ensures that higher ed professionals and student leaders are in sync with their responsibilities. By allocating time for both work and self-care, this will have you performing like The Boss, crafting a harmonious life where you shine both on and off the stage. 

2. Mindfulness: Finding Inner Peace With Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon” Mindfulness can be tricky to practice; it doesn’t always feel like it may be working or you may feel like you aren’t doing it as well as your colleagues. Perhaps it may feel unnatural, kind of like the sounds of Pink Floyd’s “Dark Side of the Moon”. Embrace mindfulness, inspired by this

profound album by Pink Floyd. Let mindfulness conduct your inner orchestra, directing thoughts and emotions for a more centered and authentic approach to leadership. Much like the album’s ethereal soundscapes, allow mindfulness to take you on a journey within, unlocking a new level of self-awareness and emotional balance. 

3. Building a Supportive Ensemble: Banding Together Like Queen 

A metal-rock anthem such as Bohemian Rhapsody breaks all the rules of what makes a great song. A great band thrives on the collaborative efforts of its musicians, just as higher ed professionals and student leaders flourish with a supportive ensemble. Like the members of Queen elevating each other on stage, focus on collaborative teamwork and building strong networks that create a harmonious work environment. By doing so, this will allow you to amplify well-being and foster growth, just like the bandmates who supported Freddie Mercury’s iconic vocals. 

4. Advocating for Work-Life Balance: Say Yes (and No) More With Third-Eye Blind’s “Jumper” 

Advocating for work-life balance is like embracing Third Eye Blind’s “Jumper”. If you have ever seen Jim Carrey’s movie “Yes Man,” you can imagine the iconic scene where he breaks into song to prevent someone from jumping off a building. As you listen to the song, envision the impactful scene, reminding us to prioritize mental wellness and to say no when necessary. Just like Jim Carrey’s character takes a leap of faith, I encourage you to find the courage to prioritize personal time and embrace a harmonious life where well-being thrives alongside work dedication. Let “Jumper” be your anthem for work-life balance, soaring to new heights while cherishing moments for yourself. 

5. Embracing Creative Notes: Take Risks Like “The Beatles” 

You didn’t think I’d write a list of iconic bands and songs and not mention The Beatles right?!? The beauty of a symphony lies in its creative notes and unique flourishes. Just like the unique sound of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, explore low-cost self-care activities and hobbies that enrich daily routines. This could be as simple as going for a walk around campus, starting your day with 5 minute morning yoga on YouTube, or journaling for 10 minutes during your lunch. These creative notes can add depth and joy to your daily routines, promoting a harmonious and fulfilling life. Let your personal style, much like a captivating stage presence, transform your well-being with vibrant and fulfilling experiences. 

The sun begins to set on a perfect summer concert, the melodies linger, and the post-concert blues start to kick in. That empty feeling I leave a show with, the kind that makes me wish it could never end reminds me of the importance of mental wellness. Inspired by legendary bands like Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band, The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Queen, and Third Eye-Blind, you too can nurture your mental health and shine on your own unique stage. So, let us all rock the stage of life, dancing to the rhythm of mental wellness. Together, we’ll create a chart-topping masterpiece, inspiring those around us to embrace the transformative power of prioritizing mental health in the journey of life. And, just like these iconic bands, let us fearlessly embrace creativity and innovation, making a lasting impact on the communities we aim to support each and every day.

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