At the beginning of this pandemic we were all in crisis mode, responding to what we thought would be a short, sharp set of restrictions and new ways of working, until we could all get back to our normal day-to-day activities and work. However, what we envisaged as a sprint has now turned into a marathon, or a series of back to back marathons! We have had to re-assess the ways we adapt and cope for the long-term.
In this blog, the CDN team share 5 ways in which they have learnt to look after themselves during these challenging times…
1. Accept that we are in a different world right now
Accept uncertainty. Reducing the need for certainty will reduce the instinct to worry. Focus on what we can control. Normalise distress as the emotion we are all feeling right now – this is a normal response to an abnormal situation.
None of us are behaving in the same way that we did pre-COVID and we need to reflect on our individual circumstances and, above all, be kind to ourselves. This will help you to manage yourself, your relationships and work demands, in order to promote personal, emotional and physical wellbeing.
2. Maintain connections and relationships
It’s disorientating to be so removed from family, friends, colleagues and students, even those we find difficult to get on with! At work the relationship between lecturers and students; managers and staff and colleagues has significantly changed. We are all missing normal day-to-day interactions at the beginning and end of class, in the corridor, at the canteen. Remember, we are still all professionals even if we are not working directly with our students and colleagues right now, and it is still possible to foster a sense of community.
Checking in on students and colleagues, as well as family and friends, helps us develop our own resilience and helps us maintain and support positive relationships. At CDN, we’ve organised virtual coffee breaks for our teams to meet up and chat; outside lunch picnics during summer 2020, and regular quizzes just to have a laugh (although some of us are more competitive than others!)
3. Establish a routine
Routines and structures help us to adapt and settle into this new way of working and living. This can be anything from eating at regular times to marking the beginning and end of work times, or having regular virtual catch-ups with colleagues.
Suzanne Marshall, Curriculum and Teaching Lead at CDN says: “It really helps me to dress and put a bit of make-up on as if I am going out to work. It gives me confidence and helps me to focus on what I need to do that day.”
4. Keep things in perspective
These are abnormal times for everyone and we are all dealing with lots of different issues. Sometimes just getting though the day will be a major accomplishment!
We can’t fix the economic, health and social problems that we are living through, so dwelling on them will only make us more anxious. However, we can manage our information and choose how much we interact with social media, newspapers and TV.
5. Look after yourself
Find a range of strategies to help release serotonin – whether this be exercise, a hobby, reading, meditation, yoga, a long soak in the bath, cooking or even just fresh air! It’s not selfish to look after ourselves at this time; by caring for ourselves we are investing in our own ability to stay strong.
Thank you to CDN’s Curriculum and Teaching Leads Sandy, Suzanne and Sandra-Jane for sharing their insights.