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Sustainability and social distancing

Updated: May 15, 2020

Publication Date: April 15, 2020

Social distancing cartoon

If you are like me, the transition to life at home has been rough. Trying to balance remote learning, a job and the massive information overload in the media is hard. Relearning how to live with siblings and parents under one roof again takes time and can be stressful. In fact, it often feels like a tug of war for your attention. Everywhere we turn there are news articles to read, class assignments to complete and obstacles to tackle. 

As much as we are interested in sustainability, it is hard to stay informed because it feels like information overload. How do we manage this overwhelming influx of information? How do we find time for ourselves and still be sustainable? 

Senior elementary education and history major and special education minor Lauren Dessel was asked how she is balancing her new online workload with life at home. 

“Balancing online learning and daily life has been an adjustment. I truly miss the face-to-face interaction with my professors. I have so much that I want to say but am not comfortable with the Zoom environment yet to speak up,” she said. “Online learning has given me the opportunity to have more time with my family. We take walks around the neighborhood every day. It has opened up a new hobby for me which is reading. I never liked to read before but now I have really enjoyed it. Lastly, I have also had the opportunity to do what I love, which is puzzles.”

While there is more time to spend with our family, it can be difficult to balance the workload, especially for students with no prior remote learning experience. 

A key way to manage time is to plot your time. By outlining the times you are busy with work or classes, you can find openings in your daily schedule for downtime. You can even block time for an activity you love to help reduce stress. This process can be “green” too. A whiteboard can be reused and updated as plans and assignments change. Reusable notebooks and planners like Rocketbooks also keep it “green.” Reusable planners prevent your plotter from becoming cluttered and overwhelming. An electronic calendar is an alternative that eliminates the need for paper. Pairing this option with the web browser “Ecosia,” which donates 80% or more of its profits to non-profit organizations that focus on reforestation, is a great way to support environmental efforts. 

Another great technique to manage assignment due dates is to create to-do lists. List all of your assignments by date then create “to-do now” and “to-do later” lists.  Checklists are helpful because they enable the organization, motivation, productivity and more time to be creative. By focusing less on remembering what needs to be done, there is more time to accomplish your tasks and spend time on yourself. 

It is also important to take time during the day for self-care. Having a calmer mind-frame enables students to be more productive. Some sustainable ways to destress include picking up or ordering seeds to plant a vegetable or herb garden, taking walks with roommates and/or pets, reading a new book in the sunlight, trying out a vegetarian or vegan recipe, playing a board game or watching a film with an environmental focus. 

Rider professors are also finding time to focus on their health and wellness as evidenced by Tricia Nolfi, assistant professor II and program director of Masters Organizational Leadership and Higher Education Assessment, Analytics and Change Management.  

Nolfi discussed the main ways she is using her time to enhance her health.

“There are two things that I am making sure that I do. The first is that I am making sure I am connecting (phone/video chat) more frequently with those closest to me. Times like this I need to be connected to my tribe,” she said. “The second thing that I am doing is  giving myself permission to be stressed about what is going on and be distracted at times. I certainly have lots to do, but that doesn’t mean I should ignore how I am feeling about what is going on. I’m cutting myself some slack.”

With so much going on, it can be challenging to take some time for yourself. Classes are overwhelming and the world is in turmoil, but that just means taking time for you is even more essential. Whether it be mindful meditation, video games, puzzles or chatting with friends, find something you enjoy and take time out of your day to do it. Be your best self, do not forget to cut yourself some slack and stay green. 

Danielle Balsamo

Graduate Assistant

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