PUBLISHING IN THE TIME OF CORONAVIRUS: Maddy Sexton on self care in strange times

Self care and coronavirus: a diary

Today’s entry comes from Maddy Sexton, Events Manager. Maddy discusses the importance of staying connected, as well as taking time for yourself when things are all a bit not-quite-right.

I suppose that it’s been said a lot, and I’ll say it again: these are strange times to be operating as a person in the world. As the events manager at Wakefield, it’s been a little disconcerting coming into the office and realising that there’s not a whole lot for me to actually do if there are no events on (hopefully my boss doesn’t read this and decide I don’t need a job anymore … please avert your eyes, Michael).

That’s not true, of course. There’s plenty to do, both at work and out of it, but it’s easy to approach each day as just another twelve hours of virus updates. A lot of my friends are in the same sort of boat as me, in varying states of isolation and employment. These past few days our group chats have been more active than ever. We’ve been sharing updates with each other, from the dire state of the bean aisle at the local supermarket to the state of our sanity. The latter, for most of us, was tenuous at best prior to this, but that’s another story.

The group chats have made me grateful, for one thing, to have such good friends around to distract me from everything going a bit haywire. It’s also made me realise how lucky we are to be able to remotely connect with people. The internet is a strange place to be at the best of times, and can become a bit of a cesspool at the worst of times (read: now), but the connectivSelf care as memes: Julia Gillard editionity it allows us is amazing. It’s also provided some amazing hand washing memes (this one, at left, citing Julia Gillard’s misogyny speech, is one of my favourites).

The web has also encourage me to ‘indulge’ in some self care. I’ve been practicing paying a little bit more attention to myself these past few days. It’s been odd, really. Not because I don’t usually take care of myself (although the alcohol cupboard at my share house is currently side-eying me), but because it seems selfish.

Part of this self care is trying not to respond to scary updates with blithe nihilism, opting instead to try and distract myself with nice, positive things. Having said that, it took all of my strength not to post Sufjan Stevens’ Fourth of July (a song featuring the line ‘we’re all gonna die’ more than once) in a group chat the other day. Luckily someone beat me to it, and the song was quickly followed up with a meme so ridiculous I almost fainted from the whiplash of the conversation.

I have actually done some good self-care things – my room has never been cleaner, my Annabelle Collett as self careplants never better cared for. I’ve also been quietly flipping through my copy of Annabelle Collett, a book full of amazing pictures of the Adelaide artist’s work. Speaking of connections, my housemate’s father knew Annabelle. A strange world gets stranger, but more comforting, with this information.

Next on the list of beautiful books to look through and coo at reverentially is the amazing Blooms and Brushstrokes: A floral history of Australian art. Although I played no part in the making of this book, I’m still immensely proud to be part of the place that sent it off into the world.

Blooms and Brushstrokes, Penelope and Tansy CurtinIt’s small, pleasurable things like this that are saving me from falling into an unproductive spiral of reading bad news and wondering if perhaps panic-buying is not such a bad thing after all (it definitely is). Makes me feel lucky to work in a creative industry where we can look at and read things that allow us to escape from reality.

I guess this global crisis has made me realise that slowing down is not necessarily a bad thing. The focus now is on making each day a little more palatable, and a lot less scary. Failing that, at least I’ll always have something to read.


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