In recent weeks, I have constantly asked myself: what does being productive look like during a global pandemic? For me, concentrating on my work varies from the week to week, some days are harder than others but – I am so grateful for the flexible and understanding team that I get to work with during this fellowship.
Everyone is dealing with their own anxiety and emotions as well as their own living situation, on top of work expectations (for those able to work from home). While we would normally handle these to the best of our ability before COVID-19, we have to now, more than ever rely on ourselves and each other. Being stationed in D.C., hundreds of miles away from friends and family makes it a bit harder but staying connected and hopeful has gave me the ability to be resilient through this. I want to share some tips that work for me during this time and I hope they can help you too!
- Checking in with yourself. It’s okay to feel a lot of different emotions all at once – take moments to feel sad, cry, pay respect for those who have lost their lives and for those who have lost loved ones. People are not weak for showing emotions and when you find moments of joy, don’t feel guilty, hold on to them!
- Allow yourself to laugh! Try laughing as much as you can every day, even at the little things.
- Practice compassionate self-talk every moment you can.
- Praise and entertain your inner-child! I use my laptop’s Paint program to draw and download coloring pages to release my creativity.
- Journal! Write when you are feeling happy, sad, a little off, and write often. You don’t need to explain or make sense of your feelings or thoughts but just writing them down clears your mind.
- Practice gratitude. I start my mornings with a body and mind meditation and I end my day with a meditating and journaling exercise focused on what I am grateful for and noticed in the day. Get free meditations at https://insighttimer.com/
- Check in with loved ones or someone you want to get to know better. Also don’t feel bad or overwhelmed with over-connecting, you are still allowed time for yourself.
- Buy stamps and find a pen pal! It’s exciting to look forward to a letter from a friend and writing back!
- Set one to three daily goals, but don’t feel bad if you don’t accomplish it in the day, there’s always tomorrow!
- Social Media, Do’s and Don’t's. Do: Fill your social media with positive accounts (my favorite Instagram account is @animalsdoingthings) Don’t: Spend more than 15 minutes at a time scrolling, reading news articles about what’s going on; it’s important to stay informed but don’t overwhelm with breaking news because that’s all you’ll think of.
Lastly, I just want to say thank you for all of those who are working during this, from our farmer workers, custodial workers, grocery store workers, delivery drivers, medical personnel, volunteers, and everyone else working through this time. We see you and we appreciate you!
Suhey Ortega is a Research Fellow with the National Park Service – Rivers, Trails and Conservation Assistance program in the Washington DC office. She started in February 2020 with her role focusing on building a grant database, working with State Outdoor Recreation Offices across the nation, and assisting the Communications Team. In her free time (during quarantine) she likes to read, practice mindfulness, cook, and endlessly scroll on Instagram for memes, you can follow her at @suheyortega.