Editor's Note

It’s the little things

What wellness means in a pandemic
Comfort Dorn
Jan. 15, 2021

Even before we lived under the cloud of COVID-19, I sometimes had trouble sleeping at night. Occasionally, my thoughts would race anxiously about money or my job or my family. The sheets would twist, the pillow was lumpy, and I just could not settle down.

Editors-note-445x297.jpg

I don't remember when or where, but at some point I read or was told that one way to address this nighttime anxiety and tension was to relax my tongue. It sounds pretty basic, almost silly, but when I unstuck my tongue from the roof of my mouth and settled it so it wasn't touching anything, the rest of me relaxed too. And more often than not, I soon drifted off.

As I read through the essays for the 2021 wellness issue of ASBMB Today, I thought about my tongue.

We asked our contributing writers and our readers to tell us something about how they have been keeping well during this year. In addition to the threat of COVID-19, we've been faced with a wild presidential election (and its aftermath) as well as the biggest racial justice movement the world has seen in more than half a century.  Even those people with great self-care habits were thrown for a bit of a loop.

What struck me about the activities described in these wellness essays is how basic they are. Take a walk. Read some books. Eat nourishing food. Reach out to friends and family to create celebrations and share experiences. Ask for help. These are all things that we can and should have been doing all along.

So what is it about a pandemic that brings us back to such fundamentals? First, many of us have had more unstructured time over the past 10 months. We have not been going to work or school. We have not been traveling or socializing in person. We have been left largely to our own devices — both electronic and mental.

But, more importantly, many of us have realized that we really do need to take care of ourselves. Wellness doesn't just happen. Our collective trauma has given us permission to ask ourselves what we need and then to do whatever it is — to give ourselves the simple care that will keep us going.

As we say goodbye to the excrement fest of 2020, I hope we can hang on to these good, simple habits of wellness. I hope we continue to care for ourselves.

Comfort Dorn

Comfort Dorn is the managing editor of ASBMB Today.

Join the ASBMB Today mailing list

Sign up to get updates on articles, interviews and events.

Latest in Opinions

Opinions highlights or most popular articles

What to ask during your faculty interview
Professional Development

What to ask during your faculty interview

July 21, 2021

“Going into your interview armed with good questions not only will help you gather intel to help you make the best decision for your career but also will help you stand above the competition.”

The STEM Academy: A necessary remedy to med school tunnel vision
Reimagining

The STEM Academy: A necessary remedy to med school tunnel vision

July 13, 2021

A one-week camp at the University of South Florida forged community as it introduced new students to the possibilities of a career in scientific research.

Merging biochemical and analytical training
Reimagining

Merging biochemical and analytical training

July 8, 2021

“(T)he pandemic revealed that while it is critical for us to specialize and have depth of knowledge in some domains, it is also essential that we cultivate some breadth in our skill set.”

Challenging science stereotypes with a video game
Reimagining

Challenging science stereotypes with a video game

July 7, 2021

Imagine a digital game set in a lab that creates a research experience accessible to all and populated by all.

Reimagining academic leadership
Reimagining

Reimagining academic leadership

July 6, 2021

The COVID-19 pandemic and protests against racial injustice highlight an existing leadership vacuum stemming from factors such as rapidly advancing technology, reductions in state and federal appropriations, and escalating enrollment challenges.

Rewarding curiosity
Reimagining

Rewarding curiosity

July 1, 2021

What if we started grading students on their ability to ask well-constructed questions?