Quinnipiac University

Director of well-being shines as beacon of self-care, positivity

March 09, 2021

Students perform yoga on a wooded path

Tami Reilly has introduced countless members of the Quinnipiac community to the benefits of self-care.

Reilly, the university’s director of fitness and well-being, is a vocal advocate of nurturing the full student — something that is particularly relevant as students pause for the first self-care day of the semester.

“Self-care encompasses mind, body and spirit,” she said. “As a university, we are all here with a common goal to improve the mind. We need to focus on finding the balance by bringing attention to the other areas as well. Self-care is the stepping stone to your overall success in every area of your life.”

Reilly, who has served the university community for nearly 20 years has earned numerous awards and recognitions for her efforts, including the prestigious Center for Excellence in Service to Students award.

“When you are making time for yourself on a regular basis, everything else is easier,” she said. “Making time for you is not easy and there are always things that will need attention or distractions that will try to derail you. But at the end of the day, you are the only person you will be spending your entire life with. Your relationship to yourself, how you care for your body, mind and spirit needs nourishing and tending to in order for you to thrive.”

Reilly said she is always in constant awe of what the body can do and what she can learn about herself when she is physically active. She also works diligently to inspire others through weekly yoga hikes and reflections, a growing number of fitness opportunities and regular inspirational keynote addresses throughout the university.

“I am inspired every day by the work that people are doing to connect the mind and body, to foster community via movement and to continue to create new programs and ways to deliver them which put people on track to live their best lives,” she said. “If taking care of yourself is not fun, we will not keep doing it — so fun can be setting a goal and crushing it, finding a buddy to share the experience with or just simply learning something new.”

She said self-care is so much more than just movement.

“For a while, most of our focus was getting people in the gym and getting them moving,” she recalled. “Movement is great and very important but certainly not the only way we take care of ourselves. As children, there is a lot of focus on teaching us how be play nice with others and how to be a good friend to those we meet. But how much time is spent on learning how to be a good friend to ourselves? That is what self-care is ultimately about. At Quinnipiac, we are making the effort to build this relationship with the self which will increase our capacity to thrive in all areas of our life.”

What self-care is to an individual varies person by person, Reilly said.

“Sitting down and making a list of the things that nourish your soul and fill you up is the first step,” she said. “Then committing to spend some time doing these things is next – that could be something small each day or weekly. Schedule in your self-care as you would a class or appointment. It could be as simple as going for a walk, playing the guitar, to treating yourself to an ice cream!”

She said self-care is ultimately simply paying attention to the quality of your breath when you are feeling overwhelmed, emotional or stressed is a huge dose of self-care and it only takes a few seconds.

“Self-care is not selfish – we should not be made to feel guilty for putting time into ourselves and our needs,” she said in a reassuring way. “When you take care of yourself, you will better be able to take care of all the other things that need your attention. I hope those I have had the opportunity to work with are learning to be more intentional, to breath more deeply and are working on being their own best friend.”

She said the many sisters in her life — both her literal sister and all of her soul sisters — have helped guide her on her journey through effective self-care.

“I cannot imagine getting where I am today without them,” she said. “Sisters who have picked me up when I am full of self-doubt, sisters who have celebrated the milestones in my life alongside me, sisters who have sat with me and held space and just listened when I needed that most. We are stronger when we work together and women are a force.”

However, despite all of the many people who have inspired her throughout her life — one woman shines particularly brightly, she said.

“One of my mentors for the past 26 years has actually been my daughter,” Reilly said. “Raising her has taught me to really walk my talk. To not just say it, but to be it. She has challenged me in ways I could not imagine and amazed me with her determination and strength. She is the most confident, honest, compassionate and fun person I have ever met. She makes me a better person by how she lives her life. I am proud of how we both have grown up over the years and all we have learned together.”

She urged everyone to refrain from overthinking what self-care is.

“It’s simple,” she concluded. “It does not have to take up hours on end, it does not have to cost money, and it is not dependent on anyone else. It is the one of the most important things you can do for yourself and creating habits and routines around that now will put you on the right path for the rest of your life. It is about showing up for yourself, removing the guilt and enjoying time with and for you.”

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