Prof. Plum

A character in Cluedo or alternatively an archaeologist/curator struggling to find an alternative to hands-on collections research while stuck at home during the pandemic.


17th April 2020

Earlier this week the Belgian government officially extended the lockdown measures to May 3rd.

That means 2 more weeks of working from home, 2 more weeks of stressful shopping trips and 2 more weeks of shouty zoom meetings.

I'd like to pretend that the past month of lockdown has allowed me to recharge my batteries, that the lack of meetings has meant a spike in productivity leading to a slew of new publications and project plans. Unfortunately, this is quite the opposite of my experience. Instead, I spend most of my time staring at my computer freaking out about the prospect of having to find a new job in September.

Like so many people in my field, my contract is project-based meaning that my job security is 0 and my panic level is through the roof.

To distract myself from this anxiety without feeling unproductive, I have tested out a number of coping strategies with varying degrees of success.

In an attempt to avoid having a journal entry that is just me whining about how much I hate lockdown, I will try to balance my posts by sharing my experiences of some of the coping strategies that I have employed in the last month.

Here are my first three:

1. Reading the News

Relieves anxiety: -1/5

Productive: 4/5

Week 1 of the pandemic I was still trying to stay on top of all the the Covid news. Each morning I woke up at a decent hour so I could get some news reading in before my self-imposed 9am start. I thought being informed would make me feel more in control and therefore would help me deal with my anxiety, but man was I wrong. While the news definitely helped me put my job-related struggles into perspective, it did nothing to diminish my overall anxiety level. Between the big orange baby across the Atlantic, the bumbling brexiteer across the channel and the rise of populism and discrimination in European politics it just made me want to crawl back into bed and not get out. On the bright side definitely feeling like I can keep up with my partner's politics talk more, so I guess that is a silver lining.

2. Procrastibaking

Relieves anxiety: 5/5

Productive: 4/5

(Health: 1/5)

I was one of the lucky few who had a well stocked baking cupboard prior to the lockdown. While others were still on a desperate search for a bag of flour, I was eating my way through my third loaf of homemade bread. While these baked goods helped provide me with energy to tick of some items on my to do list, the baking process itself was a surefire way to help me deal with my news-reading induced frustration. Between egg whisking and dough kneading, there are plenty of opportunities to work out your anger at the world through good old manual labour. The one downside of this coping strategy is of course the effect that eating all these tasty treats has on your health, which is where #3 comes in.

3. Exercise

Relieves anxiety: 4/5

Productive: 4/5

In order to cope with the vast amounts of baking that is going on in my apartment, I have had to increase my exercise level. I am lucky that I live in a non-urban area surrounded by plenty of green areas so lots of opportunities for walking/running, but even for those that don't have tons of space there are plenty of great resources on how you can exercise at home. Literally just type in "home exercise without equipment" on Youtube and you will get a million videos in which super buff people tell you how you can flail your way to prime fitness. I am not the fittest person so getting myself to do exercise is a chore, but I always feel a million times better once I have done it, partially due to endorphins and partially because it means I get to eat more cookies.