Careers Clinic: what’s your top self-care tip for pandemic working?

THE’s Careers Clinic brings together the great and the good of higher education to answer a burning careers question

February 23, 2021
Cycling was cited by one of our experts as a top self-care tip during the pandemic
Source: iStock

Even if hope is finally on the horizon for the wider world and, therefore, the higher education sector, we will likely continue to meld home and work for a good while yet. As such, we asked five experts for their top self-care tip for working during the pandemic. From learning something new (and not work-related) to seeking out sunshine, here are their responses:

“Try to stay connected to your colleagues, set up regular times to chat to people who can support you and share your worries with them − they are probably feeling the same concerns as you. And if you can, separate your workspace from your personal space.” 
Kalwant Bhopal is director of the Centre for Research in Race & Education at the University of Birmingham, UK.

“In Australia we have not long finished off the academic year, [during] much of which we worked from home, teaching fully online since March and back to partly online since September. My top tip for self-care is to prioritise sunshine and exercise. In March, I told my colleagues that for one hour during the day I would be on my bike and I’ve held myself to that. It’s helped me maintain fitness, manage my mental well-being (even in times of considerable stress) and helped me keep off the Covid kilos.” 
Cath Ellis is associate dean (education) in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences at UNSW Sydney.

“Learn something that isn’t work-related. Learning takes concentration and means you’ll be less likely to be thinking about work. It will also give you some empathy with the learners studying at your university, which is no bad thing. Plus, you’ll have a new skill at the end of it.”
Robert Macintosh is a professor of strategic management and head of the School of Social Sciences at Heriot-Watt University in Edinburgh.

“Setting up a daily routine that works best for you, and following it, is a great way to boost mental health and work productivity at the same time. I have developed something of a ritual. In my case, reading is more productive than writing in the morning. So, in the morning, I always read journal articles with a cup of espresso. In the afternoon, I transfer my thoughts to Word based on the documents I read in the morning. If you find a routine that suits you best and develop it into your own ritual, you will get both mental well-being and work productivity.”
Chang H. Kim is a research fellow at the Cairns Institute, Australia. He serves as an executive director of the Korean Association of Human Resource Development in South Korea.

“Make sure you don't spend all day stuck in front of a screen without any sort of break. Take time for a proper lunch away from your desk and take a walk or some other gentle exercise. Stretching muscles, refreshing with caffeine (or other drink of your choice) and clearing the brain is vital to productivity.”
Dame Athene Donald is a professor of experimental physics at Churchill College, University of Cambridge.

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