At a guess, we are probably in the middle of our confinement period right now, maybe even less than that. So, having barely been out of the house for six long weeks, doing another six or more feels like a drag. In the peaks and troughs of corona-isolation, this is probably a natural trough. So we have no option other than to batten down the hatches, chin-up and soldier on.
Nevermind the economy, the knock-on effect of living and working in isolation on our ability to communicate with others, read non-verbal language and avoid being over-sendentary, could be pretty serious for our mental and physical health. Here below are a few thoughts for teachers, pupils and all those working in confinement to consider, based on the importance of self-care during these extraordinary times.
When sitting for long periods working via screens, good posture is vital to avoid strains and stiffness. Be aware of keeping your back straight and shoulders relaxed. Your hands on the keyboard should be in a natural position. The best way to ensure this is to check the height of your chair relative to your table – the screen should be at chest or eye level, so you may need to prop up your monitor on a platform or pile of books. Otherwise, you will end up looking downwards all day producing a stiff neck and shoulders. Needless to say, your chair must offer comfortable back support, perhaps a pillow or cushion would help. Even better, if you have a high table, you could consider working while standing up. We burn significantly more calories standing rather than sitting for most of the day.
When you don´t have to be connected for lessons or work, it´s advisable to avoid the temptation to continue to use devices or consoles for entertainment. It does not bear thinking about how many hours we would depend on devices if we were not disciplined about switching them off when we can.
Anxiety is heightened by feelings of being out of control and there is so much we cannot predict or control beyond our front doors at the moment. Indeed, the constant flow of disconcerting news, such as the daily reports of startling figures from the government, can be as anxiety-inducing as it is fascinating. The urge to be well-informed must have limits, therefore to control what we search for or even to mute key words on our social media notifications, is increasingly important to maintain sanity. Better still, choose a light-hearted film or documentary to watch, a comedy or a values-based story to enjoy – there is plenty of content on Netflix or YouTube that is uplifting and optimistic.
Exercise and contact with nature is something we take for granted, but now we appreciate it more than ever. A little imagination and special effort is therefore required to get some fresh air, sunshine and vitaman D every day. On a personal note, I am working from the basement at home at the moment and am noticing that the lack of natural light for extended hours every day weighs heavy. Although we cannot replicate the social benefit of team sport, at least stretching and indoor or garden exercises will keep the heart and lungs in shape. From next week, children are allowed out for an hour a day for the first time in over six weeks – let´s savour the opportunity to connect with nature and be outdoors more than ever before.
The better we look after ourselves during this period, the quicker time will pass and normality will resume when it can.
Mr. MPJ Wright