Professors stress out, too
Healthy, balanced lives
Although, a professor's life during the semester is not always sunshine and rainbows — it can be clouded by a heavy workload, faculty committees and many administrative tasks. Professors can be stressed with countless factors involved in being an educator.
June Hetzel, dean of education, is spearheading a series for local educators around the community and professors about stress management and how to remain spiritually healthy while managing such a busy lifestyle. The series titled “Stress Management for Educators,” is going to be held on Nov. 19 beginning at 9 a.m. in the Caf Banquet Room.
“We want to have teachers live healthy, balanced lives, where they have boundaries about their work and depth of relationship with Christ,” said Hetzel.
It is not always easy to keep a balanced life. In fact, it can be very difficult once the semester begins to pick up. Duties towards administrative tasks, research and students can all pile up so fast for professors.
“I want students to come first. If something has to drop, it’s going to be my research first, secondly committee work or things that I can push back,” said James Petitfils, assistant professor of New Testament and Early Christianity.
For most educators, the students always come first, but it is up to every professor to find his or her priorities in their own lives. Bill Simon, assistant professor of Journalism and Public Relations calls it a “personal exploration” for every professor on how to balance their personal and professional lives.
With a rigorous pace in every professor's life, it can be hard to stop everything and take a breather. A busy schedule is not only a fight against the clock, but a battle against the exterior world and the constant chaos that it brings. After years of experience as an educator, principal and dean, Hetzel's best advice to educators is to have a proper spiritual response to stress.
“An interior spiritual posture is one of communion with God: when you’re at peace in your interior world and you're detached from the outcomes of the exterior world,” Hetzel said. “Your work is unto the Lord, not unto your principal or unto your supervisor.”
Part of life as human beings is figuring out what kind of habits a person may adopt. Some educators tend to be “workaholics” as Simon called himself, or even “perfectionists,” a self-given title mentioned by Petitfils. The concept of a workaholic can be perceived negatively at times, but in some ways it is very rewarding.
“If you enjoy your work, your work is not work,” Simon said.
The burden of perfectionism
The life of a perfectionist can be burdensome but rewarding at times as motivation to succeed and perfect work is not a bad quality. When the idea of perfection infects work to the point of obsession, it can plague one's motives or heart behind tasks.
“Inviting God into the stress, asking him, ‘Lord, turn my minutes into hours, just extend the time, make the sun stand still,” Petitfils said “Learning that getting a B is ok, you're not always going to have everything perfect, perfectionism is not a virtue.”
Just as students like to be affirmed, educators enjoy words of encouragement as well. Hetzel appreciates notes of encouragement, Simon appreciates seeing students understanding concepts in class and Petitfils enjoys watching students develop during their time at Biola.
In the end, getting stressful tasks done is not the main focus of a professor's role as an educator. They are also constantly looking out for their students’ best interests and find ways to help students be successful in their studies and in life.