8 Ways to Practice Self-Care at Academic Conferences

Academic conferences are exciting. We get to hear the latest research in our field, share our work with our peers, and reconnect with old friends and mentors. But, all of the excitement can leave me feeling drained. The good news is there are things we can do to support our minds and bodies during conferences.

Self-care is more than just bubble baths and fancy chocolate. Self-care is about prioritizing your mind and body and organizing your life to promote wellbeing. As you’ll see, most of these practices can support your non-conference life, too.

1.  Stay Hydrated

Feeling sleepy? You might just be thirsty. Drink water regularly and limit coffee and alcohol. I recommend drinking a glass of water as soon as you wake up. Also, considering carrying a reusable water bottle so that you always have some water on hand. Remember, too much coffee can make you anxious and too much alcohol will make you sluggish. You know your limits, stick to them!

2. Rest(ore) Your Mind/Body

Lack of sleep will leave you feeling tired, stressed out, and confused. None of those are good at an academic conference. So, sleep in when you can, take naps, and don’t stay up too late.

3. Move Your Body

Sprinting between conference venues doesn’t count! Our bodies aren’t designed for sitting all day. Therefore it’s important to make time to move your body intentionally in ways that make you feel good. If you have a regular exercise routine, stick to it if you can. Otherwise, go for a walk, dance, or do some gentle stretching. Certainly, the endorphin rush of moving your body, with joy, will make you feel better and help reduce stress.

Important note: Exercise should be a celebration of your body, not punishment. Be kind to yourself!

4. Eat Well

For me, eating well is simple. You should eat foods that make you feel good emotionally and physically. However, traveling to conferences disrupts our routines and eating habits. Therefore, make time to find and eat food that supports your mind and body.  Don’t worry about whether a food is “good” or “bad” – the diet industry has confused us all on how to eat! (But that’s a topic for another blog). Whatever you do, don’t skip meals, low blood sugar isn’t a good look on anyone!

5. Don’t Try to Do Everything

Conferences promote burnout there may be hundreds of sessions and dozens of receptions. But, let’s be realistic – you’re not going to make it to everything. Therefore, I recommend making a list of sessions that are most important to your teaching and research. Then, pepper in sessions that are interesting. Be kind to yourself and each other. Allow yourself to take breaks when you need and don’t push others to do more than they planned.

6. Build  High-Quality Relationships

Networking is important, but small talk is draining. Maybe you will meet a new collaborator, or get a lead on a new job, but collecting business cards and Twitter followers may not be the best use of your time or energy. Therefore, I recommend balancing the impersonal networking by prioritizing time with people you already have relationships with. In other words, spend time with your friends – you’ll feel better. I promise!

7. Spend Time Outside

No one thrives under fluorescent lights. Go outside, take a walk, find a park bench, look at the sky – take in the sights, sounds, and smells of the city you are in.

8.  Turn Your Cellphone Off

#you-don’t-need-to-live-tweet-every-session

Phones are great at connecting us with people who are far away. Consequently, they also steal our attention from the people we are with. Obviously, you need to communicate with friends, family, and colleagues. But, it can wait. Turn off your phone and give the panelists your full attention. More importantly, turn your phone off (or put it away) when you’re meeting with someone. For the last year, I’ve practiced putting my phone in airplane mode whenever I’m in a meeting or spending time with friends or family. I’m less distracted and more “present” in the interaction.

The Takeaway

You probably do a lot of these things and that’s great! My point is to encourage you to prioritize your wellbeing. Self-care doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive. As I’ve shown, there are little things you can do every day to support your mind and body.

What do you think? I’d love to hear about your experiences practicing self-care at conferences. Send me a message using the form below!

OP-ED: Immigration Enforcement is White Supremacist-Capitalism at Its Worst

Thanks to the Hammond Daily Star for publishing my piece. Full Text is available below!

Immigration Enforcement is White Supremacist-Capitalism at Its Worst

There is a lot of debate in the news and on social media about “zero-tolerance” immigration enforcement. This policy has included actions such as family separation, highway checkpoints, and sweeps at bus stations and train stations within 100 miles of the border. Some claim this policy is needed to keep Americans safe, while others argue that it’s cruel and inhumane. As a sociologist, I see this as just another example of white supremacist-capitalism.

What is White Supremacy?

Most people think of the KKK when they read the words “white supremacy.” However, white supremacy has is more than extremist groups and racist uncles. From a sociological perspective, white supremacy is a system of oppression that organizes society so that it’s everyday functioning benefits “white people” at the expense of anyone deemed non-white. White supremacy has looked different throughout history, but it originated as a system to deem who was human (White) and who was sub-human (Non-White) so that the humans could take the land and rape, murder, and enslave the sub-humans.

Understanding Capitalism

Similarly, capitalism can be understood as a system of oppression where society’s normal, everyday functioning benefits the capitalist class at the expense of the workers. Many Americans identify as “capitalist”, however, capitalism isn’t a system of identity politics like “Republican” or “Democrat”. Capitalists own the “means of production” including raw materials, the tools used to harvest/transform/transport raw materials and products, the warehouses the store raw materials and products, the markets which sell products, and banks that manage financial capital. I don’t own any of those things which makes me a worker. Likely, you are in the same position as me. If you don’t own the means of production, that means you must sell your labor power to survive. In our society, everything we need to survive exists. There is more food in our local grocery stores than can be eaten and there is much more sitting in warehouses and on trucks right now. There are enough homes for everyone to have safe and secure housing. But, under capitalism, food and housing are held hostage from us. we must sell our labor to earn money to buy the things we need. A sociological examination of history shows us that this system only benefits one group of people: the capitalist class. Of course, some workers will rise to the top but many more of us will work ourselves to death making our people rich.

White Supremacy + Capitalism = White Supremacist-Capitalism

So, what is white supremacist-capitalism? White supremacy and capitalism are essentially twins. They emerged around the same time and have worked together to make a very small group of people extremely rich and powerful. The Dutch made billions through the Trans-Atlantic African slave trade. Which involved kidnapping, buying, and selling human beings to other human beings. The Dutch weren’t the only players in the game, but they were the first white supremacist-capitalists. Today, Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Border Patrol roams the country hunting non-citizens (sub-humans) to detain and deport. We (workers) allow this to happen because we’re convinced that they “must have done something wrong” or “deserve what they get”. Such statements are both white supremacist and reflect nearly 500 years of capitalist ideology. And the capitalist class is laughing all the way to the bank.

Enter the Immigration Industrial Complex

With over 21,000 agents, the Border Patrol is the largest police agency in the country. Think about everything a Border Patrol agent needs to do their job: guns, boots, uniforms, handcuffs, cars/trucks, radios, etc. Add the cost of these things together and then multiply the cost of each by 21,000. It’s hundreds of millions of dollars in profit for the capitalist class; without detaining a single person!

Immigration Detention Centers are built by private corporations. Just building a detention center makes money for the capitalist class. However, many detention centers are operated by private corporations, such as GEO Group and CoreCivic. There are at least 200 detention centers in the U.S. According to Freedom for Immigrants, each year the US detains about 352,000 people. Freedom for Immigrants estimates that it costs about $145/day to house a detained human being. This means that immigrant detention is a $600 Million Dollar per Year industry.

The golden rule of capitalism is to make a profit and to make a bigger profit this year than you did last year. So, each year the immigrant detention industry needs to grow. This means that more people need to be detained. To grow the industry, enforcement needs to be harsher and new technologies need to be created and deployed to identify human beings worthy of detention and deportation.

The Bottom Line

Under white supremacist-capitalism, human beings are commodified. Five hundred years ago, Africans were the commodity, today immigrants have been identified as potential profits and the capitalists have hired workers to harvest these profits. You can argue that it’s about “rule of law” or “keeping Americans safe” but at the end of the day human beings are hunting other human beings for profit. Are you okay with that?

Introduction to Yoga for Men (4-Weeks Series)

Introduction to Yoga for Men is a 4-week series designed for guys who want to start a yoga practice but “arent’ flexible enough” or “can’t balance.” I’ll teach basic yoga poses and demonstrate modifications for bigger and potentially stiffer bodies. This is also a great series for men who’ve been practicing for a while but want to refresh the basics or learn new modifications. There will be lots of time for questions and answers.

Saturdays January 20, January 27, February 3, and February 10 at Downtown Yoga in Hammond, LA.

Register now!

Introducing: Marc the Fat Yogi

Happy New Year! I’d like to invite you all to join me over at www.marcthefatyogi.com. I  launched Marc the Fat Yogi last summer as a blog to share my “yoga journey”. My intention for 2018 is to learn to better recognize and reconnect with humanity in myself and in others. At Marc the Fat Yogi I’ll be blogging, podcasting, and vlogging about, what it means to be human and how we can overcome alienation through yoga, meditation, and other embodiment practices.

New Workshop: Cultivating Embodied Compassion

I’m honored to offer my new workshop Yoga For a Cause: Cultivating Embodied Compassion at the 2018 Meetings of the Southern Sociological Society in New Orleans this spring.

Academics are accustomed to living disembodied lives. As students, teachers, and researchers, most of our labor takes place in our minds, and increasingly in our hearts. Many of us will spend decades hunched over our laptops, chasing our next publication or promotion, or grading “just one more” essay. In this workshop, we will explore yoga an embodiment practice that empowers us to treat ourselves and others with compassion.

The workshop will begin with a 50-minute yoga asana practice, followed by a discussion of how we as sociologists can transform our selves and the academy through compassion. The asana practice will be accessible to all levels, and all bodies are welcome.

Proceeds from the $15 donation will benefit Hurricane Recovery in Puerto Rico.

Showing at the Oak Knoll Country Club

I’m excited to be included in the Hammond Art Guild, Fall Show at the Oak Knoll Country Club.  The show opens on Thursday, September 28 and runs through November 28, 2017. Please join us for the opening reception 5:30 – 7:30pm at the Oak Knoll Country Club 45246 Country Club Road, Hammond, LA. All art work is for sale, including my two pieces below!

Rain Dancer – Mixed Media, Acrylic and Resin on Paper
Deep Blue, Green – Mixed Media, Acrylic and Resin on Paper

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Power, Resistance, and Change: (Disaster) Sociology in the Trump Era

Presented at the Annual Meetings of the Society for the Study of Social Problems – August 13, 2017

Marc R. Settembrino, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Sociology
Southeastern Louisiana University

The idea for this paper came shortly after January 20, 2017. Like so many of you, I was riding the proverbial emotional roller coaster. I was high from a weekend of protest and solidarity, but dreading the months and years ahead.

It was also time to commit to a topic for this year’s meetings, so, I put together the following abstract:

Disaster sociologists and our colleagues in other social science disciplines have provided critical examinations of how social inequality produces and is reproduced by “man-made” and “natural” disasters.  Due to our long and symbiotic relationship with the Federal government, American disaster sociologists have been influential in shaping the way that government agencies prepare for and respond to disasters. However, today our relationship and influence seems uncertain. Though unpredictable, this paper examines the future of disaster sociology within the context of the Trump administration. Specifically, this paper examines the challenges that disaster researchers face in political climate dominated by austerity, “alternative facts”, and uncertainty. In this paper, I propose strategies through which disaster sociologists can resist and subvert attempts to obfuscate knowledge and silence dissent.

Continue reading “Power, Resistance, and Change: (Disaster) Sociology in the Trump Era”