So I’m gonna level with y’all: my mental health has been on a rollercoaster these past few weeks and I’m not sure I have anything super significant to contribute to the overarching discussion we’ve been having in this industry on the impact of COVID-19. And, frankly, it feels disingenuous to write about anything else right now.
So, instead, I’m going to write about some of the things that have been keeping me sane, in hopes that it might help someone out there, too.
Standard disclaimer: I am a full-time student, I work part-time as a graduate assistant, and I don’t have a spouse or children; so I can only speak for myself and my situation.
Connecting with others
I am fortunate enough to have consistent access to the Internet and a device. So, I have had the opportunity to continue to connect with friends and colleagues via online means, whether it’s my seminar on academic libraries or a catch up with some of my best friends. I’m also fortunate to be self-isolated with my parents and their dogs, and there is little that a good cuddle with a dog can’t moderately ameliorate.
If you’ve read my previous posts, you know I preach the gospel of Plan to anyone who will hear me. Despite being at home, I have tried to maintain my schedule to be relatively similar to the one I was keeping while on campus. Additionally, using Plan to give myself a set of tasks to do for the day has really helped my mental health: I’m able to stay productive and get my work done, but I also have a clear indication of when I can be done for the day. So, instead of facing the constant anxiety spiral of “I should be doing more,” I can finish the work that I’ve done for the day and give myself permission to relax.
Cutting myself (and others) some slack
This is the one that I have found to be the most difficult, but also the most necessary. As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, my mental health has been all over the place recently and I am trying to be kinder to myself. For me, that looks like scheduling less to do over the weekends so I can truly try to have a break and let myself relax (as best I can). I’m in the fortunate situation where I am working from home and I have that flexibility, and taking advantage of it has been really good for me.
Focusing on what I can do
As an in-person student during all of this, it can feel like many of us are getting cheated out of the experience that we signed up for. I will be the first to admit that I am happy that we are taking the precautions we are in order to keep everyone as safe as possible, but I am equally as disappointed that I missed out on some in-person opportunities this semester (and likely will next semester, too). However, I have been trying to shift my perspective into what I can do. For example, I had to miss out on teaching an information literacy instruction session for first-year students, but we were able to host a virtual Q & A on Zoom. I have been attending online webinars and workshops to brush up my skills on digital learning tools, in case this extends much longer than we want it to. I’m still mourning the missed opportunities to spend time with my friends and colleagues on campus, but shifting my perspective has helped a bit.
Did you really think I wouldn’t include a reading list? My Libby app has been getting some serious use as I take advantage of my local library’s ebook collection. Here’s some of the books I’ve read so far: Edenbrooke by Julianne Donaldson, Furyborn and Kingsbane by Claire Legrand (and I eagerly anticipate reading Lightbringer in October), Saga Vols. 1-9 by Brian K. Vaugn and Fiona Staples (which needs to return from hiatus so we can see how the story ends) Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, and I recently finished Strange the Dreamer by Laini Taylor. I’m still deciding on what to read next while I wait for the many books that I have on hold (Carry On by Rainbow Rowell, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert, and The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson, to name a few). A special shoutout to Chandler Ainsley and Regan from PeruseProject for recommending many of these on Booktube.
Stay safe, stay well, and I’m sending good thoughts to you and your loved ones. If you have any suggestions of what you’ve been doing to stay sane (or if you have any more book recommendations for me!) leave them in the comments below or find me on Twitter @JaneBehre.
Jane Behre is an MLIS student at the University of Maryland. At UMD, she is the coordinator for the First Year Book Program and a member of the Research & Teaching Fellowship’s 2021 cohort. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from Barnard College, Columbia University, and worked professionally backstage for two years before deciding to make the switch to library science. Within the field, her interests include academic librarianship (with a focus on the performing arts), research & instruction, and information literacy. In her free time, she enjoys cooking for her friends and family, listening to podcasts, and, of course, going to the theater.