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Professors, staff offer tips for this unique time

Life has changed dramatically this spring at Whitworth and beyond. Maybe you're like many and are now spending your days at home studying, working or caring for loved ones. Perhaps you're still out working to provide essential services. No matter where we find ourselves, we are all learning to adapt to new circumstances and to cope with an array of emotions. Here, Whitworth professors and staff members offer their advice on staying well during this time, both physically and mentally.

Form Healthy Habits

"This isn't revolutionary, but now is the best and easiest time to intentionally set good, healthy habits regarding how you spend your day at home. Be diligent in not only scheduling work time, but also when you'll go for a walk, snack out of boredom, or how long you'll watch TV, etc. By not setting habits early, it will become much more difficult later on to change habits when you're in the mind-numbing funk of 'Stay Home, Stay Healthy.'" – Alan Jacob, Associate Director, Housing

"If your regular form of exercise has been thwarted by our present circumstances, it is time to get creative with your exercise or time to begin a consistent workout routine. The outdoors is wide open during these restrictions. So that means, walking, biking, jogging, yardwork, etc. The oxygen and sunlight (and the activity) are great for your mood, physiology, and strengthening your immune system to more effectively fight disease. In addition, there are plenty of free apps and workout programs available from yoga to dance and everything in between. Remember, the best workout is the one you do!" – Kirk Westre, Professor of Kinesiology

"Dress for the social life you want, not the social life you have. Get showered and dressed in comfortable clothes, wash your face, brush your teeth. Put on some bright colors. It's amazing how our dress can impact our mood." – Molly DeWalt, Director of Counseling Services

"If you're spending more hours seated in front of a computer than ever before, consider taking regular breaks to stretch and move. This document (developed by students in our master of science in athletic training program last fall) demonstrates some easy stretches and exercises you can perform at your workstation to reduce strain on your body. These are just suggestions – make sure to listen to your body and avoid any that cause pain." – Cynthia Wright '05, Associate Professor of Health Sciences 

Connect with Others

"Be mentally present as much as possible when spending time with family in between working. Also, when working, consider the possibility that some work disruptions (e.g., from a child, loved one) may be to your benefit and not just/necessarily an inconvenience." – Justin Martin, Assistant Professor of Psychology

"Find creative ways to connect virtually. I'm with a group of students and faculty who are reading James Joyce's ULYSSES this semester. We began the semester as an in-person group, but we've now moved to Zoom; it's been a great way to keep reading together. Also, some friends from the Midwest started a Facebook livestream group called the COmmunity VIDeo Hymnal. Every day at 5 p.m., they choose a hymn and we sing together. It has become a highlight of the day, and my kids look forward to it each evening." – Casey Andrews, Professor of English

Give Yourself Grace

"Sometimes we all need a break, an escape from the craziness around us, even in the best of times. During these trying times, don't feel guilty about partaking in some binge-watching (within reason). Watching a favorite show, exploring a new genre or revisiting a favorite childhood movie are all valid activities to help us deal with stress and bring some enjoyment to our lives." – Nichole Bogarosh '06, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies

"Give yourself grace, not guilt. This should be the case all the time (not just during a public health crisis). For instance, if you're setting a nutrition-related goal, rather than focus on how it can improve your physical health, consider how it may improve your emotional, social and/or spiritual health." – Elizabeth Abbey '03, Associate Professor of Health Sciences

Read a Good Book

"A wellness tip from the Whitworth library director, is, shockingly, read a book. A book offers us a prism of time through which to see our humanity. A book tells us something about ourselves; it gives us tangible physical clues to the mystery of unfolding time and our role in it. Books remind us that we are the primary actors in our own lives." – Amanda Clark, Library Director & Associate Dean of Special Programs

"Sometimes it can be helpful to read wise authors who have addressed struggles that are in some way similar to our own. This can help us find words to express our thoughts and emotions, and can provide helpful life strategies. Under our current conditions, two pieces that might be helpful are C.S. Lewis' essay 'Learning in War-Time' and a sermon by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, 'Weary in Well-Doing,' which is in his book, Spiritual Depression." – Nathan King, Associate Professor of Philosophy

Go Through the Emotions

"I suggest starting a gratitude journal. Each day in your journal, write one thing you are thankful for. The more we focus on positive things and/or thoughts, we move from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset… which really means we become more resilient." – Wendy Bleecker, Assistant Professor of Education

"Make room for grief, stress and anxiety when these emotions arise. In their book Burnout, Emily and Amelia Nagoski talk about emotions as tunnels. When we don't address our emotions we get stuck in the tunnel, and it takes a negative toll on our minds and bodies. If we take time to notice and name our emotions, we greatly increase our chances of getting through the tunnel and out on the other side." – Rebecca Blackburn, Associate Director, Student Success

Spend Time Outdoors

"Get out and garden. Taking time to walk and work in our garden has been particularly important for my family and me in this season. It reminds us not only of the beauty and gift of God's creation in the midst of painful things happening around us, but also of our calling in Christ in the midst of painful times: to 'abide' in the true vine and open ourselves to the true gardener (John 15) so that we might be his presence of love and gentleness, healing and hope to those hurting around us." – Josh Leim, Assistant Professor of Theology

"Be sure to get outside – even if just to the backyard." – Forrest Baird, Professor of Philosophy 

"With the demands of life in quarantine, it can be truly hard to slow down, and when we do slow down it can be hard to resist the allure of our screens. I encourage you to take the time to find a natural space, away from others, where you can stand still, or walk very slowly. Open your senses, and connect to the world around you. What sounds do you hear? What smells of spring and new life can you detect? Open your heart and your mind, and breathe deeply. Quiet your soul and listen for that still, small voice of the One who calls you beloved." – Brad Pointer, Assistant Director, University Recreation Center