Taking Care of Yourself
Dear Campus Community,
Many of us had high hopes and grand visions for 2020. I do not imagine that for many of us these included obsessive handwashing and weeks at home. Accommodating current public health needs has been hard in so many ways, and we are grieving the loss of the plans and hopes we had for 2020. And some of us are worried about gravely ill friends and family or tragically mourning the loss of a loved one. I reach out to you today not to talk about remote instruction or shelter-in-place nor to remind you to wash your hands and not touch your face. I write instead to ask about you.
How are you doing? How are you managing all the change and anxieties that COVID-19 has wrought in your lives and in the lives of your family and friends? How are you taking care of yourself? What ways have you discovered to manage anxiety and the stress of balancing the new demands of daily life? How are you staying connected to others?
For me, it means walks outside and evenings in the kitchen. I start almost every morning with an hour-long walk with my husband. I am blessed to live in a beautiful city with hills and hidden staircases — most of which are pretty quiet first thing in the morning and allow for physical distancing. I am heartened by the stuffed bears that have popped up in windows and by sidewalk chalk art that reminds me “It’s Gonna Be Alright” and we are “Stronger Together.” And, after years of busy careers interfering with dinners at home, we now have family meals every night. I worry, though, about friends and family who are far away or alone. For that, I gratefully turn to Zoom to connect and check in.
I hope that you, too, have found ways to assuage anxieties exacerbated by unimaginable uncertainty and to make connections in a physically distanced world. As always, our own faculty offer guidance. Professor Melissa Hagan offers advice on managing coronavirus anxiety. Professor Erik Peper offers advice on reducing “TechStress” and the health benefits of an open window. Some may need more support during this time, particularly those who are experiencing the consequences of this deadly virus more directly. The Employee Assistance Program offers University employees access to a variety of helpful services. Students can contact a dean on call or schedule a tele-health visit with one of our counselors. And our Basic Needs team, as always, stands ready to help.
Even those of us who haven’t been directly impacted by the pandemic need relief from stress and anxiety to stay healthy. Some may find exercise to be the perfect distraction. The Mashouf Wellness Center is here to help with group exercise instruction via Zoom. Check out the Campus Recreation website for the latest information on class formats, days and times as well as Zoom links and passwords. Or perhaps take advantage of the many museums and educational institutions who have opened their programs remotely. Check out, for example, the California Academy of Sciences’ Academy @ Home, which offers an array of science-centric games, videos and DIY projects. This is a great site to share with children and family members.
We will one day return to campus together, I promise. But shelter-in-place will persist for at least several more weeks and physical distancing likely even longer. So pace yourself, be kind to yourself and reward yourself. Now is the time to remind yourself that good enough is in fact good enough. I promise, it is.
Above all — in every way possible — stay well!
Lynn Mahoney, Ph.D.