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Aug. 12, 2020

Break it up

I recently read a tweet that said that many of us have moved from working remotely to living in our offices. I don’t know about you, but that definitely hit the mark for me. Not only are some of us living in our offices, but we’re also living in our schools, daycares, restaurants, bars, movie theaters and entertainment venues. It’s all right here, next to, or sometimes in, our bedrooms. This pandemic has changed a lot about how we work, learn and live.

The setup makes it hard to separate work from downtime. Somehow, it’s easier to work early or late when there’s no commute to worry about and dinner is served on the same table where your computer is set up. Or, if you take a break in the middle of the day to care for kids, the hours you put in late at night more than make up the hours. Everything we do is blurring together.

It also makes it much, much harder to take a break. When you can’t really go on vacation, how do you take one? Our home offices and computers are daily reminders of what still needs to be done. When there’s so much to do, it can be hard to justify simply stepping away to binge Netflix, read a book or simply do nothing. Which makes it even more important that we do.

This pandemic has been harder than we even realize on our psyches. Even when we think we’re managing just fine, things built up. And instead of giving ourselves grace and the permission to be less than perfect or let a deadline be missed, we keep going. Let’s not do that to ourselves anymore.

I took the last week off to rejuvenate my body and soul. I slept in, spent hours doing nothing but sitting on my deck. I read seven books. I binged Netflix and walked my dog. I celebrated my daughter's birthday with homemade lasagna and a strawberry cake made from scratch It was glorious and exactly what I needed. I didn’t check my email or turn on my computer. I’m grateful that I not only had the ability but that those smarter than me pushed me to do so.

Taking a break from “normal” can be exactly what is needed in so many ways. When you think about it, pretty much all research discoveries stem from breaking away from standard thinking and imagining something new and different.

I’m certain that the Spartans who are doing work studying placebosways veterinary medicine can fight COVID-19racial income gapspandemic effects and languagenuclear science advances, and a new way to track cheetahs, didn’t get where they are by following the status quo. Innovation is all about breaking away from standard thinking.

For students, breaking away from popular thought also has rewards. Andre Harris is a junior majoring in sustainable parks, recreation and tourism and wants to work with youth. He says his major “is the most overlooked but definitely a hidden jewel.” Read more in his STUDENT VIEW: Getting teens involved outdoors, to learn how breaking away from more popular majors was the right choice for him.

Senior Alia Jones knows that students will be forced to break away from their traditional college social lives this year because of the need to stay safe through physical distancing. But, while things will look different, students will still have lots of ways to stay socially engaged. Check out the short video, Staying socially engaged on campus, to learn about them.

The university is doing an incredible job finding ways to give students a great college experience while making safety a priority. Read the latest presidential update, to learn the latest about fall plans.

Physician Andrea Wendling says that when she showed up for medical school, she was “one of those rare students who showed up on the first day saying, ‘I want to be a rural doctor.’” Her determination to break away from a more common career path has resulted in her being named the recipient of the National Rural Health Association’s 2020 Outstanding Educator Award. Read her FACULTY VOICE: Changing the world, and check out the short video to learn more about this inspiring Spartan.

As I said, I’m grateful I was able to take a short break. I know not everyone has the luxury. But, let’s be kinder to ourselves. Do something different than you normally do. Take a midday walk someplace new. Eat popcorn for dinner (but use the stovetop instead of burning it in the microwave). Watch the sunset or stare at the stars. Whatever you can do, find a way to give yourself a break. You’ll be stronger when you return. #SpartansWill.

Lisa Mulcrone
Editor, MSUToday