COVID coping: Why it’s important to take breaks in quarantine


It’s easy to forget to take a break in the rush of our pandemic lives. But we have to remember to do it. 

A few of my colleagues virtually attended the National Association of Black Journalists and the National Association of Hispanic Journalists conferences last week, and when they presented their takeaways to our team there was one unifying theme: Take time to take care of yourself. 

We’re reading about (or for us journalists, writing about) tragedy all the time. Our day-to-day routines are tougher and more stressful than ever. Even if you feel OK today, tomorrow you could get overwhelmed. Programming regular breaks into our lives can help mitigate this stress. 

So here’s my reminder for this weekend and when you head back to work on Monday: Take breaks, big or small. Take mental health days off if you have that privilege. Get up and walk around your home to stretch your muscles once an hour. Eat lunch away from your desk. Don’t check your email after you sign off. Limit your news and social media intake. Take a nap. Take five minutes away from work or chores or childcare (if you can). Maybe just close your eyes, if only for a minute.  

Thanks to Anika Reed, Rasha Ali, Cydney Henderson and Alison Maxwell for giving me that reminder just when I could use it. Your coping newsletter writer sometimes needs help, too. 

A woman sitting in front of a window at home while writing in a notebook and drinking coffee.

Word of the day: ‘Quarantine FOMO’

As my colleague Charlie Trepany put it so succinctly: The coronavirus pandemic has canceled many things, but FOMO doesn’t appear to be one of them.

FOMO, aka the fear of missing out, is that sinking feeling you see someone you vaguely knew in high school living their best life on social media. And although it’s a slangy acronym you might hear your younger relatives use, it’s also a real kind of anxiety. Jennifer Wolkin, a New York-based health and neuropsychologist, describes FOMO as “anxiety that’s elicited by the perception that others are thriving while we aren’t, or that others are overall experiencing a better version of life.”