NC State employees share their wellness strategies and tips for surviving — and thriving — during difficult times.
As we all prepare to enter “season three” of life in a global pandemic, we asked Bulletin readers to share self-care strategies that help them cope during difficult times. As your responses rolled in — from digging in the dirt to loving on “COVID dogs” — we couldn’t help but breathe a little easier. We hope the following tips and ideas (edited lightly for clarity) will do the same for you.
- “I love a good podcast. While I do listen to plenty of podcasts about the news, to change things up one of my go-to’s is But Make It Scary. Each week the host and a guest rewrite a romantic comedy and turn it into a scary movie. It is nice and light which is a great change of pace.” — Vanessa Bak, College of Sciences
- “FaceTiming with my family, just to say hello and make sure they are being safe, are healthy and staying active. Those moments bring a lot of peace and comfort to me, since we are not seeing each other as much.” — Madelene Brooks, Industry Expansion Solutions
- “I am one of the people who now has a “COVID dog” and I’m so glad for this little pooch. She forces me to take her for walks, snuggles with me when watching a movie, and is an all-around fantastic, loving and entertaining new member of the family. I now know why many people added a pet to their family during the most intense part of the shutdown.” — Connie Fowler, Jenkins MBA Career Center
- “Taking 30-minute walks in nature a few times a week (especially on a nearby greenway trail) and daily meditation really helps. My go-to comfort activities are listening to jazz or feel-good pop music, reading a good fiction novel from Stephen King or Anne Rice, watching a feel-good TV series on Netflix like Community and Kim’s Convenience, and catching up on movies I have been meaning to watch but never got around to watching pre-pandemic. Learning a second language and watching history, environmental or social justice documentaries (there are so many good ones on Netflix and HBO Max) really help for taking care of the mind. — Emma Gosalvez, University Communications
- “I take a long walk on my lunch break, whether I’m working from home or in the office as I’m on a hybrid schedule. This helps me keep my head clear. I also keep a gratitude journal and have kept it up, almost daily, for over 10 years. It has helped me appreciate and be aware of even the tiniest bit of good and to expect good in my life. Gratitude has become a lens through which I see the world, a discipline and a practice. Giving gratitude is almost like choosing to walk on the sunny side of the street. Although it’s not easy to be grateful at times, I can always think of at least five things, insights, situations or people that I am grateful for. At the end of the year or whenever I need a reminder, I read through past entries and am reminded of all the good that really has happened.” — Ellen Hammond, College of Design
- “Find time to take care of yourself and do something that makes you happy. For me, it’s stopping and snuggling with my dogs instead of scrolling my phone.” — Maggie Merry, Poole College of Management
- “My acoustic guitar sits on its stand next to the piano my wife and kids have played over the years. Dust had accumulated on the guitar. When I was teaching online from home during the pandemic, the guitar seemed to be looking at me, asking “will you ever come back to me?” I did, and after toughening up my fingers I have found a 10-15 minute interlude from work with the guitar, doing finger exercises and playing new songs, has helped sustain me. Getting in the kitchen to cook up a pot of tasty gumbo has been fulfilling as well.” — Eric Miller, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences
- “Be gentle with yourself. There is a lot going on. Take time to listen to what your body and mind and heart are trying to tell you. Respond with words you need to hear. Particularly in these darker months of winter, allow yourself space to reflect on what you want out of life, out of yourself, and out of your relationships. Dream of what you would like to be true by December 2022. See the larger picture that this day, week or month fits into. Realize that today is all you need to worry about — you are simply laying one brick in the wall you are building. Occasionally step back and see how much you have done. Celebrate the work in progress. Celebrate you for just showing up.” — Jennifer Peavey, College of Design
- “As challenging as this pandemic has been, my advice for “wellness for happy mind/happy heart” is to get a pet. I have a beagle (Maggie) and a yorkie (Peanut) that bring so much joy and happiness. They love to go on walks and play and love so unconditionally. At night, they will hang out with the family like two children watching old TV shows like Gunsmoke, Wagon Train and Rawhide. They love to watch and bark at the horses.” — Jill Phipps, Office of Information Technology
- “Gardening has been my therapy during the pandemic. Working in the soil to rid our new yard of invasive weeds has kept me grounded. Planting new things which I can monitor as they evolve across the seasons and see how they feed the birds and pollinators gives me joy. Now I’m getting creative to keep the gardening going through the winter. Most recently I used reclaimed milk jugs as mini greenhouses to winter sow seeds that will hopefully germinate in late winter/early spring.” — Tara Watterson, Advancement Services
- “I think we all have to make time to unplug from our work, our school work and even our own thoughts. I don’t do this every day but I’ve been doing it more than usual. I light incense/candles, play some of my favorite music on my sound bar, sit back and meditate/daydream when I’m feeling tense. This helps me unplug, find my center, and look at life from a more optimistic perspective. — Christian Woods, College of Agriculture and Life Sciences