Rituals and reflections under Covid-19 stay-at-home orders
Most of our core team at EQI is located in Melbourne, which means we’ve been living under restrictions, in some form, from March until now. As we’ve all heard in many moments this year, these are unprecedented times. We are very fortunate that our work has continued at EQI and that we have been able to work remotely from home environments that are safe, which we know is not the case for many. And while there’s no doubt it’s been challenging in many ways, it’s also reinforced the power of collective care and the importance of feminist leadership - leading with heart, courage and empathy.
We’ve been through various stages throughout this time, adopting hobbies, embracing routines (sometimes only to abandon them shortly thereafter), listening to the experts, and finding ways to stay connected. We’ve baked bread, started a book club, supported small business, shared research, watched seasons come and go, cried, laughed, listened and learned. And as we approach the six-month mark, and potential lifting of restrictions here in Melbourne, we wanted to share with you a collection of our thoughts and experiences, in the form of reflections, rituals and activities, that have helped. We know everyone is different and what helps one may not help another, but we hope these may help to foster a sense of connection in some small way. We’re in this together.
The COVID stay-at-home orders in Melbourne have been challenging for everyone. At EQI, we are all very fortunate that our work can continue, albeit remotely from our homes. Amidst the endless hustle, completely losing track of time, and occasional bouts of existential dread, one positive which I have noticed during this pandemic is that people are more frequently checking in with one another and more openly discussing mental health and wellbeing.
I have noticed this shift in my family, my friends, and my colleagues. Shortly after the pandemic hit, a group of my friends from high school began discussing the impacts of the pandemic on their state of mind, tentatively at first and then gradually opening up about their own past and present mental health struggles. Over the 25 years I have known these girls – now women - I don’t ever recall a single conversation about mental wellbeing. Until now. Many of my childhood friends are children of migrant parents, who generally did not discuss or even acknowledge mental health as an issue. Many of us were taught to view mental health struggles as a taboo topic or dismiss it as a personal failing which you keep to yourself. COVID has been the catalyst which prompted us to open up to each other, destigmatise this issue, and support one another.
Loksee, Research and Evaluation Lead
I’ve been taking it day by day, instead of thinking about the future. Doing things like going for a walk around the block each morning, as if I’m on my way to work – a fake commute of sorts, focusing on the light at the end of this tunnel and the knowledge that this too shall pass. I’ve loved spending time with my partner, who helps to make tiny, silly things enjoyable and fun. Getting engaged was something joyful in the midst of all this, and it gives us something to really look forward to in the future.
Scarlett, Visual Designer
I read some research that looked at the effects of isolation in extreme environments, and one of the common impacts was greater appreciation for the environment and nature. I’ve definitely felt this. Going for a walk every day, often through the same park, and seeing the way the trees change and life ends and begins again across the seasons has felt strangely both surreal and grounding.
When we were allowed to connect with a ‘single buddy’, I linked up with a close friend who was also living alone. Having dinner together (aka with someone else) for the first time in months was such a privilege and so lovely. I went home buzzing. The gratitude I feel for the people in my life, and more broadly, for nature, relationships, the things that bring joy to each day, witnessing feminist leadership, collective hope and care, is immense. I hope I can hold onto this gratitude, because it has made a difference and helped when in the moments I’ve felt particularly lonely or lost.
Domini, Communications Advisor
As a migrant, I've felt quite vulnerable and lonely. Experiencing this thing so far away from home and the people who loved me has been scary. But something quite remarkable and magical happened. My relationships with family and old friends strengthened, and now calls with them are non-negotiables in my new routine. I have also found a new family here in EQI, who have become a lifeline through the toughest of times. And yes, against all odds, I’ve been slowly getting to know a new Melbourne I hadn’t experienced before, through my morning walks around the neighbourhood and unexpected house moves. I've also somehow, and quite amazingly, met new people during lockdown. A group of migrant women in Melbourne who I now meet every Saturday (through Zoom, of course) and who, though I've never met in real life, have become one of my main support groups.
Lina, Communications Coordinator
Rituals and hobbies (little things, whether practised daily, weekly or once in a while, that have helped)
- Having one small goal each week, whether that be cooking a new recipe, sewing a mask, trying to do a Bob Ross painting, etc.
- A daily walk and making the most of being outside, especially as the weather is warming up
- Morning meditations (and chilly mornings made warmer and snugglier in an Avocado Oodie)
- Lighting a candle and making fresh coffee each morning to start the day
- Buying fresh flowers each fortnight
- Keeping a journal
Activities (things we've loved, whether as an individual or with loved ones)
- Planting veggies and watching them grow!
- Attending a virtual art show with NGV
- Setting up a herb garden
- Playing digital darts and dice games with friends (setting up a two-camera per household system, it’s quite involved)
Content we're consuming... (the things we've watched, read, listened to, that have brought solace...)
- Intimations by Zadie Smith(A collection of essays)
- I May Destroy You (TV Series - practise self-care while watching this, it explores consent and sexual violence but it's an incredible show by creator Michaela Coel)
- Watching Season 2 of PEN15 - available on Stan
- My Octopus Teacher - available on Netflix
- Turntables by Janelle Monae(listening and watching the film clip on repeat)
- Same for Sad Day by FKA Twigs- check out the film clip here
- Making Spotify playlists for every mood
- Girl, Woman, Other by Bernadine Evaristo (book)
- On the Record - a must-see documentary, now streaming on SBS On Demand
Sharing (at work, with friends, family and beyond)
- We started an EQI book club within the team and have been reading The Power by Naomi Alderman
- Our wonderful Operations Team at EQI sent each of us a batch of delicious donuts from Short Stop for RUOK? Day - such a beautiful treat to receive at morning tea time!
- We've been making time to enjoy shared (virtual) activities together and one of our colleagues, Sarah, led us in a fun jewellery making workshop - check out her amazing earrings below
- We've been baking and dropping off baked goods at friends’ houses (within 5km)
- For special occasions, Providoor has been a beautiful way to celebrate with a very special meal
- And last but not least, photos of our pets are a common occurrence in our EQI team chats and sharing moments with our furry friends always helps brighten the day