Social distancing, as in #CancelEverything, has arrived and it’s, well…distancing and disturbing.

Days of remote work, or nearly empty buildings, with fewer activities than normal, can make even the most dedicated academic introverts hungry for connections.

We’ve got suggestions for getting relief:

1) Start your list of benefits. Sleeping in, short commute to dining room table, pants optional, bare feet de rigueur, relief from that person, guilty-pleasure reading, multitasking the laundry, singing out loud, optional showering, immediate access to all lab equipment, coauthors may return edits faster, superabundant parking, Prime shopping, newly acquired Zoom expertise. Put the list somewhere visible and post it to Instagram or Twitter when you’ve got it fine-tuned.

2) Get outside and have a small group walking meeting. Parks and plazas are empty. Walking meetings require no contact with surfaces and are open-air by definition. (Does anyone have a 6-foot, 2-yard stick?) We won’t preach the benefits of sunlight and nature for mental health and focus but will note that those who participate in walking meetings are more likely to report being creative at their jobs and feeling more engaged. Suspect this could be a key relief from captivity.  Harvard Business Review has this guidance for How to Do Walking Meetings Right.

3) Teach an older family member to Facetime. We’ve all been meaning to do better staying in touch. Let’s turn isolation into a chance to do better. If we’re relatively young and healthy, yet feeling cut-off, imagine how amplified the experience is for those who are older or who have health liabilities. Getting face-to-face is even better than a call. And besides, people suddenly want to talk to the scientist in the family about science. This summary about Making Video Calls with Facetime from the Senior Tech Club may fit the bill.

4) Write and mail cards, gifts, or letters.  While we may be pouring more time into social media and being on the phone, tangible items have special value. Remember birthdays and occasions, like dissertation defenses, Match Day, and anniversaries, for those who will miss celebrating in groups over the coming weeks. Reflect on the influence of key people in your life and write a few lines to thank them. Remember to include colleagues, mentors, and mentees. Reconnect with peers, neighbors, and friends from prior training and jobs with a brief update and pictures. Most of us, as academic nomads, have a list of folks we’d like to see when we go give a talk or do a site visit. Don’t wait and don’t let the perfect be the enemy of the good. Rather than setting the bar at a multi-page missive, send a short note with a book, small object, humorous gift, or even a scientific paper you think they might enjoy. If you have a long-lost friend in mind, here’s a template to jump start your draft.

5) Host an virtual book club by video conferencing or other media. At Edge for Scholars our reading is running the gamut right now:

Black Death at the Golden Gate: The Race to Save America from the Bubonic Plague by David Randall – A riveting social, political, and scientific history of how spread of the plague was narrowly averted in the early 1900s when the first cases arose in San Francisco. (@edgeforscholars Twitter bookclub on March 29, 3:00 to 5:00 pm ET)

The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin – Reflections on a year of implementing changes aimed at being energized, less serious, making time for community, aiming higher, pursuing passions, and other goals informed by references to the underlying science.

The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace by Paul White – Understanding how best to appreciate and acknowledge the contributions of others.

The Common Rule: Habits of Purpose in an Age of Distraction by Justin Earley – Four daily and four weekly practices based in traditional Christian customs of contemplation and community.

Dare to Lead by Brene Brown – Recognizing the potential in people and ideas by staying curious, rejecting scarcity, and getting out of our comfort zones.

The Power of the Other:  The Startling Effect Other People Have on You, from the Boardroom to the Bedroom and Beyond and What to Do About It by Henry Cloud – Invites readers to recognize and minimize toxic influences and get more from themselves by drawing on the strength and expertise of others. (On deck for an Edge for Scholars Facebook book club.)

6) Learn to use that photography or graphics app you’ve been meaning to master. Up your social media game for personal and professional use by learning to use tools like Word Swag to crop media to correct sizes for varied platforms and add text, or Diptic to create photo collages. Check out more ideas to Post Like a Pro: 3 FREE Resources to Make Your Social Media Posts Stand Out

7) Get outside and share photos with others. A literal breath of fresh air for you can make someone else’s day and provide much needed relief from the constant flow of information about #thevirusthatshallnotbenamed. Tag us too @edgeforscholars. #canceleverything #getoutside

Please add your ideas and links below.  Got tips for beginner gardeners or killer at home workouts? Send them along or add your own blog post.

FURTHER READING

Tips and resources to maintain your mental health during the outbreak from NYU.

More tips and resources for sanity during a pandemic from Mount Holyoke’s counseling center.

Taking care of your mental health in the face of uncertainty from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

Stay in and move with videos of the twelve no-equipment exercises top trainers recommend.

Fifty more bodyweight exercises that don’t need a gym (which is closed anyway).

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2 Comments

Very useful thoughts, Dr Hartmann!

Hi folks,
 
I wanted share some thoughts, along these lines
 
In these stressful times, adults, and children, alike, can benefit from a stress reliever like mindfulness meditation or yoga.
 
Here are some useful links, to consider.
 
https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/mindfulness-meditation-may-ease-anxiety-mental-stress-201401086967
 
https://www.nytimes.com/guides/well/mindfulness-for-children
 
https://www.mindful.org/free-mindfulness-resources-for-calm-during-covid-outbreak/
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6p_yaNFSYao
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X655B4ISakg
 
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v7AYKMP6rOE
 
Please consider sharing, if you find this useful.
 
May be we can organize a zoom discussion on how folks are handling the stress?
 
Take care, and thank you,

 

RJ

Thanks for sharing! This Guide to Living with Worry and Anxiety Amidst Global Uncertainy also offers several ideas for relief and staying active, see Activity Menu on page 7: https://www.psychologytools.com/assets/covid-19/guide_to_living_with_worry_and_anxiety_amidst_global_uncertainty_en-us.pdf

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