How to work with pleasure in times of corona by Bernadette Kester (EUR)

—originally posted at— 

This is a blog post written by Bernadette Kester she is a senior Assistant Professor in the Department of Media & Communication at Erasmus University. Her teaching and research activities lie in the fields of journalism studies and media and representation. Currently she works on publications about the coping strategies of war journalists; and the well-being of foreign correspondents and journalists in general.

How to work with pleasure in times of corona

The global pandemic of COVID-19 has dramatically transformed our everyday realities. Such significant changes inevitably affected our approaches in academic work. With (even greater) uncertainty  about the future and merging of office/home environments, finding focus can be rather challenging. We have reached out to our Confidential Counsellor and a qualified Meditation Teacher, Dr Bernadette Kester for some advice and useful tools in battling distractions. Below you will find Bernadette’s message. The PhD Club of ERMeCC is very grateful for your time and expertise, Bernadette!

First of all, thank you for inviting me to contribute to your blog with a piece on ‘how to work with pleasure (in times of corona)?’. Indeed, I altered the title… but to me it sounds better than ‘how to prevent stress?’. How you formulate what your circumstances are, how you feel, what you would like to accomplish, what your ideal work situation would be, etc. matters a lot. Language matters, language constructs our reality, at least it influences how we experience our reality. It seems our brain doesn’t respond well to negatively formulated demands or wishes. So instead of saying ‘I don’t want to eat chocolate so much’, it usually works better and more stimulating to say ‘I want to eat more healthy food’. In our case, it’s most of all not about the wish ‘not wanting to feel stressed or frightened or worried’ but about the question ‘How could I learn to work with pleasure (under the circumstances)?’. It boils down to your main question ‘How to stay focused?’. Indeed, having a focus, and being focused in your (life and) work, generates enormous pleasure.

  • Formulate your wishes and your aspirations positively
  • Contemplate on the question of what it means to work with pleasure. How does that look for you? What would your ideal conditions be? Which of these conditions are realisable (given the circumstances)?

In order to feel balanced and well we need to know (and we usually do know) how to recharge ourselves, we (usually) also know what our goals are (short and long term), and we have learned how to keep strong ties with the people around us. Under the given circumstances the first and the last condition have become more complicated. Not being able to go to the pub for relaxing and seeing your friends can bring about feelings of loneliness and isolation. Try to zoom out and consider this situation as temporary. Such an approach has been widely propagated these days, but it is actually true and it offers some opportunities! It opens the road to the most important thing in life: to become friends with yourself or to feel at home with yourself! Sounds perhaps a bit woolly for some of you, but I discovered myself how important this actually is. How often are we unsatisfied with ourselves, criticizing ourselves, being very strict to ourselves, et cetera? And a lot of this happens unconsciously. Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your dearest friend. Talk to yourself, keep a diary, learn to know yourself (better). Be more encouraging and lenient to yourself. This intimate relationship lasts a lifelong, so you better start to value it. If the basis is okay, the rest is a ‘piece of cake’. But if the basis doesn’t feel okay yet, start with the cake (see below)!

  • Take on a different perspective on your social reality: zoom out every now and then
  • Be as kind to yourself as you would be to your dearest friend

Let’s return to our main question: How to work with pleasure?

Want to read more? Here you find the complete blog post, including practical tips.