As a student during the pandemic, I can’t say that I enjoyed virtual classes as much as I enjoy in-person classes. I felt that, in my context, it led to much less peer-to-peer interaction, something that I sorely missed. And, doing all of my coursework from home made me feel a bit stir-crazy. It was this cooped-up feeling that led to one of my silver linings; during the pandemic, I developed a love for walking outdoors.
Pre-pandemic, I had walked to school some days, but these had been hurried walks filled with plans and worries about the day ahead. During the pandemic, I learned to ramble around my neighborhood, admiring my neighbors’ gardens and occasionally meeting their cats. Just puttering around with no particular destination allowed my mind to relax and wander freely, and I found that after these walks, I was much more able to focus and work efficiently than I had been before them. In short, I had learned the difference between what I think of as ‘active’ and ‘passive’ rest.
My walks to school pre-pandemic were passive rest. I wasn’t working on anything, but I also wasn’t allowing myself to relax. My brain was still going a mile a minute. My walks during the pandemic, however, were restorative and peaceful. Not only was I not working, but I was also actively re-charging both mentally and emotionally.
Despite living in a culture that seems to view busyness as a badge of honor, I’m coming to realize that down time (or, ‘active rest’) is essential, particularly in an academic setting. Allowing my mind to wander makes space for creative ideas to bloom, and cuts down on feelings of burnout during stressful seasons. Of course, none of these ideas are new or original; the past 18 months just gave me a personal lesson in them. In the future, I hope to continue my practice of walking the neighborhood several times a week.
Do you have a practice or habit that you picked up during the pandemic and hope to continue in the ‘new normal’? Or, is there a way that you and your colleagues managed to keep up your work despite all obstacles? If so, we’d love to hear about it! You can send your Silver Lining stories or comments to [email protected] to be shared with fellow LINGUIST List readers during this year’s Fund Drive.
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