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.

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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.

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