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Are you emotionally strong?

RESILIENCE is the ability to endure and recover from adversity. A resilient person faces challenges head-on and is able to improvise solutions.

Increasingly in the academic world, educators need to face the future with resilience. Such educators are more adaptable, emotionally strong, and empathetic.

They are creative, digitally literate, familiar with their subject matter, and more capable of responding swiftly to disruption.

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, coping with the consequent chaos and uncertainties requires mental resilience.

People have shown differences in the way they respond to the unfolding challenges and adversities. Some are psychologically more resilient than others.

In the higher education context, flexible remote learning has provided vital opportunities for cultivating resilience in educators and learners.

Many stakeholders have grown to appreciate the flexibility offered by digital learning, and realised that such learning provides far more potent development opportunities as technological fluency is essential these days.

Working or learning from home has also enabled them to improve their time management and prioritisation skills, in addition to learning how to overcome technical glitches with the use of lecture recordings.

Resilient educators have shown competence in planning resource allocation and interventions for learners who struggled with the pandemic situation.

Coupled with passion, these educators genuinely care about their learners, encouraging them to speak up and express themselves during virtual classes and consultations. They are also a source of inspiration for their learners.

That said, it is vital for educators to take time off sometimes to recharge and reenergise.

Fatigue can set in, as we constantly seek innovative ways to engage our learners in virtual lessons.

We can also be our worst critics. This is particularly true when we feel anxious and fearful. We faultily assume that criticism may motivate us to do better.

Instead of talking to ourselves with compassion, we subconsciously raise our standards and push ourselves to do more, which may have debilitating consequences.

This can leave us feeling defeated and demotivated, and affect our well-being.

Hence, taking a break is an important factor that must not be overlooked.

We need to give ourselves the resources to be resilient by cushioning internal and external recovery intervals, such as creating tech-free zones, taking a cognitive break, pursuing leisure activities, and spending time with our loved ones.

If done efficiently, it can increase our work productivity.

Another key factor in building resilience is to offer support to others, such as our students.

Listening to their grievances can sometimes be tricky. We may fail to give them solutions, especially if they are dealing with complicated issues such as depression and suicidal thoughts.

Advise the students to consult a psychiatrist where necessary.

As educators, we too must not be afraid to seek help from a therapist or confidant.

We need to find ways to express ourselves and share our ups and downs with someone we trust. We do not have to fight our battles alone.

Wai Ching Poon is an economics associate professor and the director of graduate research programmes at the School of Business in Monash University Malaysia. She is formerly the deputy course director of undergraduate studies. She has published actively in high-quality mainstream and multidisciplinary journals. She serves as an editor for Cogent Economics and Finance, and is on the editorial board for Corporate Governance: An International Review, Management and Organisation Review, and Water Conservation Science and Engineering. The views expressed here are the writer’s own.

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