Wash Your Hands, but Also Take a Nap

Now it’s naps too? Okay. I think I can handle this one as well as the others.

As our campuses prepare to close and plans are developed to move our courses online, faculty, staff and administrators are moving into crisis-management mode. At my institution, Duke University, our team has quickly come together, by circumstance and by choice. Emails are flying, spring breaks have been forgone, phone calls are being taken in the carpool lane and so forth. We are on it!

Except how long can we sustain this?

We already know that work-life balance is a myth in the academy, and it certainly gets skewed in times of crisis. But COVID-19 threatens to be a long-term crisis. We’re not just closing campuses now but also canceling important events in the future (even graduation, maybe?), impacting enrollments in the fall and beyond, for example. We can expect many continuing reverberations.

How are we going to sustain ourselves now and for the long term?…….

We can also remind each other to take breaks, to reassure each other that it is okay to log out of email once in a while. In my case, I reminded my colleagues to pay attention to nearby Duke Forest, where there are more trout lilies than I’ve ever seen! We need to get outside and breathe deeply of our spring air before pollen descends.

Given that we are responding to a public health crisis, it only makes sense to prioritize our personal health. Yet for many of us, that is the first thing to go.