Being a full-time academic remains rewarding, but should include methods to balance the demands of professorial responsibility. Prior to the pandemic, the task of teaching, conference presentations, an array of faculty meetings, office hours, and grading papers was much. Fast forward due to the pandemic and Remote Instruction, the drain on the optic nerve is taxing. Everything being facilitated by a computer and/or tablet in many instances increased the physical and emotional strain of professorial responsibilities
During the pandemic, to balance out my career demands, I embraced the need to be physically active daily. It allows for a cathartic release and provides opportunity to give my eye light and lungs fresh air. I typically start my day with my spiritual reading and meditation, then some form of physical exercise. I am a cyclist and participate in two organized Bike Teams; National Black Girls Do Bike (NY-Chapter, BGDB-NYC; 2016) and The Little Rascals Club (Queens, NY; 2019).
Thereby, I participate in a lot of organized bike tours from May Eugena K. Griffin100 miles per tour. Because of this, during Bike Season, I typically cycle a minimum of 50 to 200 miles per week. During the off season my teammates and I, Zwift, which is a virtual online platform that allows us to cycle together by use of a indoor bicycle trainer and connecting sensors to a road bikes and laptop.
Additionally, since the pandemic, I resumed a love for walking. Being fully remote for the past two years, I needed air. Being in my home office all day started to get to me, including making the reality of the death of my adopted big sister/bestfriend more salient. Dr. LeKisha Edwards passed away December 30th 2019 due to Sickle Cell challenges at the tender age of 42. She was in my life for over 18 years. After her death, showing up to the college each day, huffing to the train and being physically present was in some ways minimizing my focus on such a significant physical loss.
However, once the pandemic resulted in a Mass Lockdown for the city that NEVER SLEEPS, grief became REAL. I started going through the different stages of grief, including anger. The reality of being a Licensed Psychologist, in addition to serving as a professor, made me use positive self talk, reflection, and emotion-focused coping strategies to help myself from staying in a down mood. Thus, walking became part of my therapy–removing myself from my home, getting air, and listening to uplifting spiritual music.
To date, after my spiritual devotion, before my work day starts during off season, I walk regardless of the weather. I even purchased wind and rain gear from Columbia Sportswear to support this catharsis. I started with walking a mile a day. Now there are days when I walk 7 miles, again regardless of the temperature. I also do 100 push-up (unmodified) a day and other calisthenics. To each their own, however, being physically active, along with my spiritual practices has protected my mind from a significant amount of negative emotions during this pandemic. I am most proud of myself for being able to guard my mind, but also I divorced a total of 32 lbs. being consistent with being active daily, changing what I eat, and I have maintained it for the past two years.
During my youth, I was a basketball player and received college scholarships to play ball. I am back at the weight and energy level I had at 18 and it feels AMAZING. No one tells youth, how important it is to remain active as you grow in age and career. It is interesting how your career platform can become such a focus that you begin to neglect your physical health, which can indirectly compromise your mental health. I am back to drinking a homemade fruit and vegetable smoothie daily, a salad a day, and staying away from all fast and fried food. All of which impacts our quality of physical and mental health if considered from a Biopsychosocial Model, as I teach my college students. What we consume impacts brain chemistry, endocrinology, and overall quality of physical energy and cognitive processing. When we don’t feel good physically, our mind, including ability to process information and recall, as well as variability of mood can be impacted. Knowing, but owning this is essential to continue to serve as a college professor, licensed psychologist, and mentor to the generations that come behind me.
My newly embraced motto is to be active each day, regardless of the weather to protect my mind, heart, and sow a seed into my future self.
Dr. Eugena Griffin
Dr. Griffin obtained a Ph.D. in Clinical-Community Psychology from the University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC (2008). In 2010, she was licensed as a Clinical Psychologist. She joined the Hostos Community College, CUNY faculty in 2015 as Assistant Professor of Psychology. She continues to provide instruction from a Biopsychosocial Model in the Abnormal and General Psychology courses. Dr. Griffin’s research interests include examining the racism-coping phenomena for adolescents and adults, including its impact on mental and physical health outcomes. She also examines the impact of unique psychosocial teaching techniques to support non-traditional age college students acquire content material, but also increase esteem as students. Dr. Griffin has current publications that reflect her research findings, as well as provides talks at both national and regional conferences. She has also authored an e-book, Letters to the Black Community (2018), which discusses the impact of racial oppression on the psyche of Black youth, adults, and overall community with solutions for healing and restoration.