This perspective is brought to you by Teri Turner, MD, MPH, MEd. Teri was APA’s Education Chair from 2016-2019 and will start her term as the organization’s President-Elect next month.
April 21, 2020
It was a hard week for me last week and it was difficult getting out of bed this morning. I’ve been sad, worried, and distracted at times. Each of us are in different phases, often in the same week, of how we cope with all of the events associated with the pandemic. I’ve focused on the following three things to help me overcome these feelings: cope in the moment, coping to help others in gratitude and participating in a Community Of Practice Engaging in Scholarship (COPES).
- Cope in the moment – put your oxygen mask on first. Sometimes, like today, I just need to take care of myself. Last week, one of my friends and colleagues shared a contest that focused on “giving yourself 1 point for each thing you did today.” Minimum number of points was 0 and the maximum was 19 including behaviors like “got dressed in non-sweats, put on make-up, went outside, shaved, and worked out.” There are days that I’m barely a 5 but each day I strive to be a little better. Lately I have been dressing up to work remotely. I’ve also been doing meditation, especially in the afternoon, when my stress level is the highest, with Meditainment, which is free during this global crisis. I’ve been texting and emailing with my APA friends almost daily. All of these things help elevate my mood. The best is when we share personal successes, celebrations, great memes or pictures of DIY beauty fails. FYI – do not let your friend give you a spray tan!
- Coping – cope to help others IN Gratitude. I’ve found that being on social media or watching the news for more than 15 minutes, or thinking about the unfairness of the situation can drain every ounce of joy I have even after I put my oxygen mask on first. When I am feeling this way, I need to focus on the things for which I’m thankful. My rising chief residents, affectionately self-named the “Cheeftos” reminded me of this recently. I’m extremely thankful for the wonderful PEOPLE that are in my life. A friend and fellow APA member gave me a gratitude journal several months back and now I spend a few minutes in the morning journaling about what I can do to “make today great” and at bedtime journaling about “amazing things that happened today.” A friend of mine on the APA board recently sent an email expressing her thanks to me. That seemingly small act of kindness meant the world to me and I am now committed to saying thank you or telling one person a day about the impact they have on my life. Practicing gratitude not only decreases anxiety and sadness, but also improves health and builds strong interpersonal connections.
- COPES – participate in a Community of Practice Engaging in S It has been hard for me to focus during the pandemic and I’m much more easily distracted now. I thought I would have all this time to work on scholarship since all my national meetings and presentations were cancelled. Now would be a great time for me to write up those papers. On the most recent MedEd twitter chat there was a great discussion of 12 tips for writing when you are distracted. When I lack the motivation and I’m struggling to get started (i.e. this blog), I commit to writing for a short amount of time (25 minutes) and then take a break and repeat. I’ve also started scheduling meetings with all my writing teams. This provides accountability and is more fun than working alone. I’m trying to start the day with my M.I.S.T. or most important scholarly task. I keep a log of my efforts, including date, time of day, goal (e.g., words written, minutes spent), project, whether or not my goal was met, and comments for reflection. Tracking is what makes fitness bands so popular because you get feedback on your habits and how close you are to achieving your daily, weekly, and monthly goals.
- Share you great ideas on how to thrive during the pandemic with the rest of the APA Community
- There are 1,440 minutes in a day, use one of these minutes to reach out to someone you would have seen at the PAS meeting and send them an email or schedule a virtual happy hour with an APA colleague.
- Collaborate with your team and write up the abstract that you submitted to the PAS meeting. Consider reaching out to a colleague in your APA region, special interest group or a current or former APA speed mentor and share the draft with them to get feedback.