Upon returning to campus this semester, similarly to students, many faculty feel the added pressures of being a part of campus life and building relationships, while still remaining safe. Several University faculty said they have adapted some of their habits this semester to prioritize relationships, as well as their mental, spiritual and emotional health.
Since school has started Lori Sloan, assistant professor of communication, said she has taken advantage of the beautiful weather outside and has made a point to go on walks and stay connected with people. Sloan said she goes on walks with friends, while social distancing, and makes an effort to spend time with those who encourage her.
“If you’re mentally stressed and put stress on yourself, it impacts your physical health, too — it impacts your relationships, your work and everything,” Sloan said. “We’re commanded to be good stewards of the blessings God has given us, and that has to do with the physical body and the mind.”
Assistant professor of business administration Sarah McGaha said she loves staying active and uses exercise as a way to stay positive. McGaha is an instructor at Nooma, a yoga studio in Searcy, and said she uses Nooma as an outlet to place herself in a community that is encouraging and uplifting. McGaha said she has been encouraged by the community that Nooma has provided and said it has been a huge blessing to her during the past few months.
“Nooma does such a good job of mind, spirit and body,” McGaha said. “It’s more than just your body working out. It’s that connection, and that’s so valuable to recenter yourself and have a safe space to be vulnerable and reconnect with yourself.”
Mac Sandlin, assistant professor of Bible and ministry, said one of the biggest stresses he has felt during this time is the social isolation he experienced, especially when classes went online for the second half of the spring semester. Sandlin said that as campus remained empty throughout the summer, a lot of professors missed the students’ presence — something that is crucial to the Harding community.
Sandlin has also found walks to be a great alternative to meeting with students in his office.
“On a walk it’s easier to be quiet,” Sandlin said. “It gives you something to do while you’re having the conversation. Some students want to hang out, but some need to talk about hard stuff. A walk helps students feel more at ease. ”
Although this semester looks different, Sandlin said he still is overwhelmed with joy, simply by being with others.
“We’re really all in this together,” Sandlin said. “We can be a help to each other –– a support to each other. We’re all on one journey.