Monday, October 4, 2021

Pandemic Work Habits: From Lock Down to Overload


"Brain activity" by Cristóbal Cobo Romaní 
is licensed under 
CC BY 2.0

Since the start of August, I have been experiencing anxiety and memory problems. I have considered a number of causes (and consulted some licensed medical professionals).  I will into detail, but the graph above is the most elegant explanation. 

The low part at the left (understimulated) represents the first half of 2021. The low part at the right (overstimulation) represents the second half of 2021. 

A Quick Look at 2020, the Year Living on Cortisol and Adrenalin  

From February 2020 to December 2020, I was very busy preparing for life changes that I saw based on news I was reading out of China, California, New York, and Italy.  Then starting the second week of March 2020, both universities where I taught moved to online only. Thankfully, I had been using Blackboard, an electronic teaching tool, for years. It's a great way to supplement face-to-face instruction. 

But then in Fall of 2020, I learned how to use Zoom. Not only did I teach two classes, I also initiated ways to connect with a variety of people. I filed grades the second week of December then spent time with family who were able to gather together again thanks to testing and physical distancing. 

January to July: Pandemic Fatigue, Winter Blahs, and Hermit Habits

In the Winter of 2021, I only taught one class: Death, Dying and Bereavement with additional material related to deaths caused by COVID-19. That's when I hit a low. I had been in lockdown at home since March of 2020. I was only teaching one class, and it was emotionally demanding because of the topic and because my students were experiencing high levels of anxiety and depression, which made it difficult for them to do the assigned work. I stayed in my pajamas and watched a lot of British Detective shows and, thanks in a large part to the film Dig (2020), I also watched several documentaries about the history of England. 

The spring did bring an uptick in my energy and cognition. I taught a very demanding class online: teaching first-year college writing to 109 engineering students in China. I also was vaccinated (Pfizer, two inoculations).  However it took me two months of hang wringing before I returned to the gym and to church. 

Summer of 2021: Delta Came to SW Indiana