Sonya Peres, Climate Commission Officer, EAUC

When my flatmate came home from work two months ago and told me that her office had begun to prepare staff to work from home, I was upset and anxious. 

I felt frightened that the virus, which didn't seem like a part of real life until then, had become so serious. I then worried about what COVID-19 meant for vulnerable communities, my family and my work. After a month and a half of our rearranged lives, I do still worry about vulnerable communities battling the pandemic and my family, however, I seem to have found my feet in working during a pandemic (to some extent, see: ups and downs, trial and error, ebbs and flows etc).

Here’s how:
Firstly, working for a sustainability organisation made the process of switching to working in a pandemic easier. I work with universities and colleges all over the UK and am used to working remotely from home, particularly for important meetings. However, while I was very confident in my Zoom abilities, working from home is not the same as working from home during a pandemic.  EAUC, conscious of wellbeing (it is an element of sustainability!), began “Quarantine Mulls.” Quarantine Mulls are daily optional online gatherings for team members to discuss our days, our feelings and to basically … mull. These meetings have helped me in not feeling isolated, making working from home during a pandemic a lot easier.

Also, I am an avid fan of food and cooking. Even when I am working from the EAUC-Scotland office in Musselburgh, I excitedly plan my lunch: what I am going to bring to work? What I am going to order at the cafeteria? Since working from home during the lockdown, I have maintained this enthusiasm for my lunch break (which I’m sure is quite relatable!).  Although now, with the extra time and resources, I am able to make extravagant and sometimes challenging lunches with leftover challah bread from the night before, or homemade parathas with a curry etc. Planning and cooking tasty lunches structures my workday nicely and keeps me happy. 

Lastly, I try and exercise daily. Before lockdown, I used to walk at least 30 minutes a day (mainly because my bus stop to get to work is a 15-minute walk from my flat each way). Now, I try and kick around a football or go for a walk with my partner immediately after work to keep me energised. Sometimes, I’m too tired to do any exercise and instead choose to stay inside and read a book or watch some television. On these days, I try to not be too hard on myself and simply allow myself to indulge (this is easier said than done).

During a session of EAUC’s Wednesday Wins (an informal online meeting for EAUC’s network during lockdown), colleague John Thorne (Sustainability Coordinator, Glasgow School of Art) said, “it’s okay to not feel normal sometimes, this isn’t a normal situation.” So, while I think I am adapting to this new life, it has been comforting to remember it is okay to feel upset, something my colleagues and mentors in the sustainability sector have helpfully communicated.  
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